The Grape Escape: Old World Wine Harvesting

by Rebecca on September 7, 2010

in Living Like a Local,Cubicle Escapes,Wine Country (SF)

Harvest Festivals are in full swing all over California wine country, with many vineyards offering visitors a piece of the action. All you need to do is take off your shoes, roll up your pants, and…well…you get the idea:


Grape stomping (also known as foot treading) is possibly the most fun one can have around wine without actually drinking it. And it’s still a surprisingly common practice around the world, especially in Portugal where it’s used for port production. The human connection is supposed to make for a more gentle crush.

If you’re anywhere in the San Francisco area, it’s well worth checking out one of these festivals. They are also the perfect date activity (just be sure to get a pedicure first!). Here’s a roundup of Harvest Festivals near San Francisco featuring grape stomping:

  • Sept 11Madrigal Vineyards (Calistoga, CA) noon – 4pm, Inquire for price
  • Sept 18Summers Winery (Calistoga, CA) 11am – 3pm, $50 (includes wine tasting and snacks, lunch)
  • Sept 18Castello di Amoroso (Calistoga, CA) 7 – 10pm, $105 (includes wine tasting, food, stomping contests)
  • Sept 25Peju Winery (Rutherford, CA) 11:30 – 1:30pm, $150 (includes day of events, dinner, tasting)
  • Sept 25Raymond Vineyards (St Helena, CA) 5 – 8pm, $10
  • Sept 16, 23, 30 and Oct 7Schweiger Vineyards (St Helena, CA) 10am – 2pm, $125 (includes souvenirs and lunch)
  • Sept 26 – For something a little off the beaten path, check out the Grape Stomping party at White Crane Winery in Livermore, CA. The festivities (and drinking) start at 8am, but it looks like a ton of fun. Cost is $65 and includes breakfast, lunch, a pedicure station (!) and prizes.
  • Oct 3 – For something even more off the beaten path, venture out to the old mining town of Murphys, CA for a hardcore, super fun grape stomping contest sponsored by the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance. Teams of two are encouraged to appear in costume and are judged by how much juice they can produce. Stomps occur every 30 minutes starting at 9:30am.

If you decide to partake in any of these events, be sure to buy tickets in advance so you’re sure to have a spot. Get those leg muscles in shape, have fun, and don’t be afraid to get messy!lucille ball grape stomping

Top photo credit: Beijing Boyce

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