Holly Ebel: Grapes are a top pick

September 5, 2018

Sure, you can pick apples, but something else has joined the list of “must do” fall events. It’s the annual grape stomp at Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery in Spring Valley. And it’s happening from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Grape-stomping is a centuries-old tradition among grape-growers in vineyards across the world who celebrate the grape harvest. Though only in its sixth year at Four Daughters, this event attracts hundreds of people from all across the area.

Kristin Osborne, marketing director and one of the “Four Daughters,” explains it this way: “People sign up in teams of two and compete against other teams to see which group can stomp the most juice. They’re standing on a platform in the barrel, and the juice then goes into a pitcher below them. The amount is measured, and the team with the most goes on.

“Most of the teams come in costumes, which adds to the overall fun and festivities,” Osborne said. “We usually have about 100 teams, and everyone has a great time.”

Three teams move to the finals and compete again. Prizes go to the winning stompers, the finalists and the best costumes. (In case you were wondering, the juice from the stomping is not used for Four Daughters’ wines.) Cost to participate is $10.

Popular DJ Alan Reed keeps a running commentary during the event and also gives directions.

Whitney Tonne, event manager for the vineyard, points out you don’t have to stomp to be part of the fun. Onlookers who cheer the teams are welcome, plus there also are tours of the vineyard, which have become very popular. Keep in mind, too, it’s a beautiful place to be on a warm fall day. And they promise good weather. “In six years, it has never rained,” Osborne said.

Another activity Saturday in addition to the stomp is grape-picking, which you can also sign up to do. (I have). This is supervised by the vineyard manager, David Wett, will start at 8 a.m. and go until noon.

“We want to get started while the grapes are still cool and before it gets warm and they start to ferment,” Osborne said. Volunteers are given the proper tools and what is called a lug, which holds the grapes. A quick picker can fill a lug in 15 minutes. If they can fill four lugs in one hour, they would have harvested 100 pounds. In four hours, a person can pick about 400 pounds. A group of 20, she said, can pick well more than 1,000 pounds.

The reward for your four hours is lunch and a glass of wine. Another picking day is scheduled for Sept. 22.

I was assured the picking is much less strenuous than it sounds. There also is much camaraderie among the pickers.

Being relatively new to the vineyard and restaurant business — they opened in 2011 — Four Daughters has built quite a following and reputation for the quality of their wines as well as their cuisine. In fact, in a new poll just released by USA Today, Four Daughters was listed No. 2 in the country as among the top vineyard/wine/restaurants. They also were the official wine provider a few years ago for the Sundance Film Festival.

To sign up for either the grape stomp or to pick grapes, call 507-346-7300 or email events@fourdaughtersvineyard.com.

You can pick apples another weekend.

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