At fall festivals across the country, visitors can get their feet wet in grape crushing, the old-fashioned way.
Even if you weren't a huge I Love Lucy fan, you probably know the iconic scene in the "Lucy's Italian Show" episode, in which Lucille Ball's character Lucy Ricardo climbs into a vat of just-picked grapes and has at it. Today, for the most part, grape crushing is a more automated, mechanical process. But for those wishing to indulge their inner Lucy, there are stomps and Lucy look-alike contests at wineries all across the country each fall, often in conjunction with local harvest festivals. We can't guarantee that any will result in an all-out hair-pulling catfight with a fellow stomper, at all, it should be pretty hard to keep a straight face, whether you're doing the stomping or the watching.
Each September, Morgan Creek Vineyards in Harpersville holds a "Lucy Look-Alike" competition at its annual Grape Stomp. All visitors to the winery are invited to jump in barefoot and crush grapes while enjoying the outdoors and live music. Even those who don't take home the prize of top Lucy will leave with a souvenir of the vineyards - a print of their purple, post-stomp feet.
The Calaveras Winegrape Alliance's Grape Stomp Competition held in conjuction with the Gold Rush Street Fair in Murphys in early October is absolutely cutthroat. Each team consists of a stomper—to crush the grapes in the barrel—and a mucker, to help as much juice travel from barrel to measuring bucket in a few minutes. Teams parade around beforehand in wild costumes and exhibiting great bravura, and some return year after year for the chance to win the crown.
For a less competitive (though still highly popular so reservations are necessary) affair, Napa's Schweiger Vineyards hosts an annual stomp event, taking place this year September 17 and 18 as well as October 1 and 8. Following the crush, stompers partake in a tour of the facility, a tasting of current releases and a family-style picnic lunch.
This year, competitors at Henscratch Farms' ninth annual Grape Stomp stomp along to music from the aptly-named California Toe Jam Band. All stompers are eligible to purchase a bottle of the resulting Foot Stomp Vintage wine in the fall, with their picture on the label and the caption "FOOT STOMPED BY MY DILIGENT FEET." â€¨
The motto at the annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Festival at Mackinaw Valley Vineyard and Winery is "Get in touch with your inner Lucy." First, there's a Lucy look-a-like for guests to pose with for pictures, and some even show up in Lucy wine-stomping costumes. Stompers compete in two large picking tubs while a band plays. The audience serves as judge and jury as they look for style and creativity in their stomping. Two local TV anchors from different stations also stomped and got into a grape-mush hurling incident which was dissected on local TV newscasts for days.
At Flag Hill Winery, it's not easy to get a spot on the stomping team. In fact, some folks wait years until they become one of the chosen few. Once selected, it's not an easy task: they must first spend the day harvesting grapes, eating lunch, and playing group relay games before the featured attraction: grape stomping. Guests take turns stomping and then plant their grape-stained feet on a T-shirt. The juice that gets stomped each year is made into a wine called Les Pieds Sucres, French for Sweet Feet.