The Grgich Grape Stomp will leave you with Lasting Memories
(No, Really, There’s A T-Shirt To Take Home!)
As if there weren’t already a long list of reasons to visit the venerable Grgich Hills Estate (and there are), if you’re visiting during harvest, there’s something you can scratch off your bucket list: an old fashioned grape stomp.
It’s no secret that lots of locals believe harvest is the best time of year, a sort of Christmas come early when aromas of fermenting grapes fill the air, the highways are filled with grape gondolas, and you can find your way home in the dark by following the lights of the nighttime picks in vineyards throughout the North Coast.
But grape stomping at Grgich Hills Estate, well this, you need to know about.
It’s not a surprise that the impish Mike Grgich, who has a certain reputation as a debonair lad, even at 94 years young, has spent decades charming people as he traveled the country promoting Napa wines. He would particularly tell all of his new friends to come and visit the winery at harvest time so grapes could be stomped and wine could be drunk. And come they did.
As a result, from mid-August to Halloween each year visitors arrive and find that for a special Grape Stomp package, they can select a corny but cute t-shirt emblazoned with Grgich grapes and the declaration “I Stomped At Grgich Hills”. Oh, but that’s just the beginning.
In a special pergola, you’ll find half-barrels of grapes ready for crushing. Place your T-shirt on a special form in front of the barrel, hop in and stomp away (after you lose your shoes, of course). There’s a perfect backdrop for photos, so snap and post away. When your toes are sufficiently jammy – and that’s a pretty accurate description of what the sticky goo will feel like, in a good way – you step out onto your t-shirt and leave a lasting impression on the shirt, a pair of grape stained feet that complete the memory. Hang the shirt on the line while you wash off and head into the tasting room for some sampling in your commemorative tasting glass. When your shirt is dry and your exploration of Grgich’s famed history is well formed, the Grape Stomp is complete.
Mike Grgich says his mother used to place him in just such a barrel when he was just a bit over two years old, leaving him to stomp and play in the grapes in a place she could keep track of him. Every fall, his feet start tingling and the urge to stomp begins.
He’s created that same experience at his eponymous winery, where you’ll be able not only to taste a full array of award-winning wines, but learn about the history of Napa and Mike Grgich’s role in making it, from the Judgment at Paris to the Great Chicago Showdown to the quest to find the origin of Zinfandel (think Mike’s native Croatia).
Where Else Would You Want to Be at Harvest?
The grape stomp is happening 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. No reservations are required (except for large groups). The $35 fee includes a t-shirt, tasting, a commemorative Go Vino glass and stomping ($25 for wine club members).
Reservations are not required, except for groups of eight or more. A variety of seated tastings and tours are available, as well as a tasting bar.
Not To Miss
The Napa Valley Wine Train stops daily and passengers enjoy tasting in a special room where Mike Grgich himself is often found on Saturdays sharing stories and a glass, posing for photos and dashing off autographs. Worth the trip.