“Grape stomping is the stick shift of the wine world,” once wrote Abby Reisner of the food and drink website Tasting Table. “Sure, a machine could easily do all the work, but that's not nearly as fun.” For those who want to jump in feet first, here are places in California where you can become a human wine press.
Living history docents at La Purísima Mission regularly show visitors the old ways of weaving, making pottery, handling livestock and blacksmithing. In September, you can try your hand (or, really, your feet) at stomping grapes during Harvest Mission Day. The largely restored California mission re-creates how early Spanish settlers lived when it opened in 1797. Mission Day features grape harvest and wheat threshing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15. The event is free, parking costs $6.
Info: La Purisima Mission State Park, 2295 Purísima Road, Lompoc; (805) 733-3713
Nearby Solvang also hosts a Solvang Stomp starting at 2 p.m. Oct. 13 as part of its harvest festivities. $75 to $100 per person; participants must be 21 and older.
Info: Solvang Stomp, 1st Street and Mission Drive, Solvang
In Napa Valley, the first grapes picked during harvest are used for sparkling wines. Then come white wine grapes and, later in fall, grapes for red varieties. At Grgich Hills Estate, you can stomp red wine grapes from Aug. 24 to October, provided the grapes hold out. It costs $40 and comes with three wine tastings and a white T-shirt you step on to create your own grape-colored footprints.
Remember the “I Love Lucy” TV episode where Lucy and her pal Ethel are stomping grapes? Lucy look-alikes are welcome at Callaway Vineyard & Winery for the annual Sip, Stomp and Play event from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25. Farm-to-table dinner at Meritage, dancing and wine come with the stomp of Sangiovese grapes; tickets cost $61 to $68.
Info: Callaway Vineyard & Winery, 32720 Rancho California Road, Temecula; (800) 472-2377
More than 100 wineries get into the swing of things from Oct. 19 to 21 for its Paso Robles’ annual Harvest Wine Weekend. You’ll find dinner and a grape stomping session Oct. 19 and 20 at Opolo Vineyards. Tickets cost $120.
Info: Opolo Vineyards, 7110 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles; (805) 238-9593
The Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival started in 1897 and has been the last weekend in September ever since. The event in the downtown historic plaza welcomes teams of stompers and rewards participants with T-shirts to stain. The grape stomp is Sept. 29 and costs $30 to $40 per person.