The Grgich Grape Stomp
It’s no secret that harvest is the best time of year, 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 nighttime picking in the vineyards.
During harvest, beginning August 24, Grgich Hills Estate visitors arrive and find half-barrels of grapes ready for crushing. The 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.”
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). 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 of 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.
Mike Grgich says in Croatia, 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).
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.
Grgich Hills Estate is located at 1829 St Helena Highway in Rutherford and is open daily from 9 am. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, (707) 963-2784 call or go to www.grgich.com.