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Published: October 12th 2013
Fall has arrived in wine country and the soft summer rays filter through the trees and into the valleys……..harvest season (or crush) has arrived again. The weather in the Napa/Sonoma region is almost perfect this time of year with warm sunny afternoons and crisp evenings as well. The grapes agree and yearn to be picked…..and then crushed to make their way into bottles….and then into our hands.
As we drove down the long and elegant drive way leading to the wine cellars we noticed the vines were turning goldenrod and glowing in the sunshine. Balloons were at the end of the driveway providing a warm welcome. As we approach the registration desk they confirmed our reservation, gave us name tags and our wine glass. Glass in hand, we had the appropriate tool for the day and were ready to go.
Some say Lucille Ball was one of the great female comedians of all time. Whether you liked her comedy or not you probably remember the episode where she stomped grapes. You can go on YouTube and revisit this timeless episode which ends in typical Lucy fashion. Since that time Merry Jo has wanted to give it a try. That
1st place winner!
We stomped our hearts out.
day had finally arrived.
A few decades ago, the best time to visit a winery might have been the fall so you could attend vineyard activities around the harvest. These days vineyards have activities year around so one season is not really any better than the others in our opinion. Those crafty marketing people have seen to that. Each season is unique.
At wineries there are no shortages of wine tastings, food pairings, special wine dinners, BBQ’s, olive oil tastings, concerts, antique car shows and gift shops. Some vineyards have art on display. At others you can tour the wine caves. There are limos to rent, bachelorette parties, weddings and other celebrations, each of which bring the customer to the grapes and all the trappings within. But since it is fall and MJ wanted to try grape stomping…..and let’s face it, there was no stopping her…..
Few wineries continue to offer the grape stomping for legal reasons. Many are worried someone will slip in the grapes and fall and hurt themselves. This is where the lawyers usually get involved, but we were able to get a reservation for the Harvest Stomp Party at the
The Vine Dawgz
provided great music
Bell Wine Cellars. The experience was everything that a grape stomper could want. Bell Wine Cellars
is a “boutique” winery, producing about 15,000 cases a year. These smaller wineries focus on a limited production of high quality wines. Our hopes were that a smaller winery would offer a more intimate gathering. We were extremely happy with our choice. The owners Anthony and Sandra Bell produce fine wines and throw a great party. They meandered table to table talking with each of the guest about the history of their wines and winery. One of the more refreshing aspects of our visit was that the tasting room was simple and straight forward. More to our tastes, barrels surrounded where one could sample the vintage, which was served on a simple finished board on top of a couple of barrels, in a nod to simpler times.
With our name tags affixed and wine glass in hand, we headed to the front lawn where tents, tables and of course, wine tasting was available. The Vine Dawgz, a local band, who affectionately refer to themselves as delicately aged classic rockers kept the beat going all afternoon. The chef had firm control of the
lovely and one of our favorites
grill where he was grilling beef tenderloin and yellowtail tuna. The food was sublime, the wine was fine, the bocce ball intense, but we had come for the stomping of the grapes and were not to be denied.
After a few hours of tasting and noshing, the time had come to gather for event rules and instructions. The 16 teams were announced. Each four-person team was promptly sent into the vineyard to gather about 30 pounds of grapes. Once secured, they were hauled to the patio area and placed in knee high wine barrels. Each team was allotted two minutes for stomping, twisting and grinding of the grapes. Each member of the team had their 30 seconds of fame gyrating with the grapes.
Then the hilarity began. Normal mild-mannered folk became grape stomping fools. For safety reasons the barrels were along the stone wall so participants could hold on during the frenzy. Other team members were spotters to prevent gravity from doing its thing, but in reality, they were cheering each other on. The barrels were strained and drained, the magic liquid measured and the results tallied.
And now for some background on MJ’s team. Anyone who
Bell Wine Cellars
would you like a sample
has encountered her in a competition knows that she has, shall we say, a competitive streak in her. Well, as luck would have it, she was paired with like minds. The three young ladies had victory on their minds and schemed to best strategize the victory. Their intensity paid off handsomely as they claimed 1st
place. Each of them received a magnum of 2008 Syrah. Score!
Lucille Ball, if you’re looking down, know that your influence has translated into an afternoon of high comedy
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