by Jade Helm | Photo © Willamette Valley Vineyards
Somewhere at the intersection of barefoot puddle splashing, playing with food, and the delightful sensation of jumping on bubble wrap lies the grape stomp. Foot “treading” is the more technical term. The ancient laborious act gets a celebratory revisit every year when harvest festivals abound. Today, instead of hours of quad building exercise, people jump in for a few minutes of good clean… well, sticky… fun and sometimes the chance for prizes and glory.
There is some vocabulary to learn, especially for grape stomps that are also competitions. Stomper is self-explanatory, but what is a swabbie? It sounds like the worst job on a pirate ship, but a skilled swabbie can make all the difference. Swabbies reach inside the barrel, carefully avoiding getting their fingers stomped, to direct the juice into the bucket. The amount of grape juice collected determines the winner. Check the websites for entrance and stomp team registration fees.
Many of the festivals encourage costumes. To really get in step, consider dressing like grape clusters, superheroes or, of course, the ubiquitous Lucy and Ethel.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Grape Stomp Just for fun or for serious stompers, this is a qualifying competition for the World Grape Stomp Championship in Santa Rosa. The winning team gets a trip. Prizes are also awarded for costumes, and people go all out. Expect great “festival style” food pairings from the winery chef, as well as wine tasting and music. September 24-25. wvv.com/Events
Carlton Crush Harvest Festival This free, all-day festival in downtown Carlton has something for the whole family. It includes wine and beer tasting, pie eating contests, arts and crafts, and a vintage Thunderbird display. End the night with live bands. Event proceeds benefit local charities. September 10. carltoncrush.com
St. Josef’s Winery 34th Annual Grape Stomping Festival This festival features more than 400 lbs. of sausage and sauerkraut, a six-piece Bavarian band, and stomping grapes in a 1,200-gallon oak barrel (the equivalent 3,000 bottles of wine). Enjoy wine tasting plus winemaker-guided tours. September 24-25. stjosefswinery.com/events-calendar
Melrose Vineyards Grape Stomp and Harvest Celebration Stomp to the country rock beats of Red Thunder and refuel with BBQ. The stomp winner gets a one-year wine club membership. The Lucy Lookalike winner receives a gift basket from Melrose’s fabulous gift shop. September 25. melrosevineyards.com/events.php
Festa Italiana’s Tutta Bella Grape Stomp This grape stomp has an Italian flair. The best stompers win wine. Every stomper wins the telltale signs of squishing the purple-juiced alicante bouschet. Enjoy chef demos, pizza tosses and all-Italian puppies. September 24-25. festaseattle.com/stomp.htm
Airfield Estates Part of Wine Yakima Valley’s “Catch the Crush” event (wineyakimavalley.org/events-item/catch-the-crush), the festival at Airfield Estates includes a grape stomp, live music, food trucks and a vineyard fun run. October 8. airfieldwines.com/events
VanArnam Vineyards Who wouldn’t want to join VanArnam’s Purple Feet Club? This Wine Yakima Valley’s “Catch the Crush” event is not a competition, but expect lots of giggling. There are food trucks and wine tasting. Stomping is free. October 8-9. vanarnamvineyards.com
Tucannon Cellars Enjoy wood fired pizza, wine tasting and free competitive grape stomping. Prizes include wine and t-shirts. October 8. tucannoncellars.com
Snip (Spay Neuter Idaho Pets, Inc.) A grape stomp at a brewery? Why not, if it’s for a good cause. At Crooked Fence Brewery in Eagle. enjoy beer, wine, games, music, auctions, harvest hors d’oeuvres and a grape stomping contest. The winner holds the doggy trophy until next year. Proceeds fund spay and neuter programs. September 18. snipidaho.org/events-news/events
Indian Creek Winery’s Harvest Fest Everyone will be on their grape-stomping toes with live bands every hour. Test your skill at harvest-inspired games, including cork spittin’ contests. Grape stomp proceeds benefit the Idaho Food Bank. September 25. indiancreekwinery.com