California Travel Tips

California Grape Stomp Season Where The Crush is a Rush

Published on: June 27, 2012

Photo: Popular California grape stomps are as old as “I Love Lucy”.   It’s nearly that time of year when the grapes are coming to harvest  (August – October) and grape stomp events celebrate exciting times  when the crop is transformed into delicious wines.  Grape stomps existed in ancient Rome along with the enjoyment of wine. But today, the thought of people stomping with their bare feet on your drink may turn your stomach.

While there may be a few places around the world where grape stomps are actually employed to make wines bottled and sold, the U.S. has outlawed them, as have many countries where the feet were determined to be a health concern. When you stomp at an event today, it is just for fun, and the juice is discarded.

California has no exclusive rights to grape stomping, even though we produce most the wine in the U.S. Other states tout their grapes and grape stomp events such as an “I Love Lucy” look alike grape stomp contest back East. It is based on the 1956 I Love Lucy episode, Italian Movie – Bitter Grapes,  in which Lucy practices grape stomping for a bit part in a movie while traveling with Ricky, Fred & Ethel in Italy. Of course she gets into a grape slinging match with an Italian woman in the vat. You can imagine the antics in this popular episode filmed at the Desilu studio on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood.

California grape stomps are extremely popular, and perhaps the Lucy fiasco has contributed to their success.  There are grape stomp races in Livermore and Rancho Cucamonga, grape stomp events at festivals in over 20 wineries throughout the state, and an entire month of open grape stomp opportunities at Grgich Hills Winery in St. Helena.  The serious grape stomping takes place at the Harvest Fair in Sonoma where the World Championship is held. People come from all over to participate and compete for prizes such as this year’s award, 4 airline tickets good for any Horizon or Alaska Airlines regular scheduled service.

For those who are just looking to get messy, check out the Tomato Battles.

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