It’s Grape-Stomping Time in Virginia

Two wine festivals let you get messy, Lucy-style

Step out in style and wear this season’s hottest hue—on your feet. In the 1950s, Lucille Ball made grape-stomping fun and fashionable on I Love Lucy, and this fall you too can get in on the pastime.

A few area vineyards and wineries are hosting fall festivals in which grape stomping plays a big part. On September 22 and 23 Tarara Winery in Leesburg hosts the 13th annual Great Grape Wine Festival, a popular, family-friendly event complete with apple picking, hayrides, children’s activities, and yes, grape-stomping competitions.

On both days of the festival, Tarara will fill 11 barrels with grapes for a new competition every 45 minutes. To take part, you’ll need a two-person team: One person will stomp the grapes while the other extracts juice. The first team to fill a wine bottle with grape juice wins. Judges—including a Lucy impersonator—will time participants and hand out prizes.

Festival coordinator Kim Parker suggests that would-be stompers “wear clothes they don’t mind getting stained,” such as shorts or pants that can be rolled up.
Cheryl Mortland, co-owner of Fox Meadow Vineyards & Winery near Linden, Virginia, says grape-stomping attracts “more watchers than doers.” Fear of grape-juice stains is a likely reason why.

Those bold enough to brave the messiness can stomp together—for fun, not competition—in a big grape-filled vat at Fox Meadow’s Harvest Picnic on September 29. Another draw is an upscale picnic menu that includes barbecued beef brisket, Italian vegetable salad, and a fruit torte. A cap of 60 picknickers will lend the afternoon an intimate and mature air. But the chance to kick off shoes and jump on squishy fruit will appeal to childlike hearts.

And in case you wondered, neither winery plans on using the stomped grapes for wine production.

The Great Grape Wine Festival at Tarara Winery (13648 Tarara Ln., Leesburg) runs from 11 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, September 22, and 11 AM to 5 PM on Sunday, September 23. Tickets are free for children under 6, $8 for designated drivers and attendees under-21 ($7 if you buy online), and $15 for adults ($10 if you buy online). Call 703-771-7100 or click here to order.

The Harvest Picnic at Fox Meadow Vineyards & Winery (3310 Freezeland Rd., Linden, VA) runs from noon to 6 on Saturday, September 29. Tickets cost $30 and include picnic food and one glass of wine. Individual wine tastings cost $5. Call 540-636-6777 to order tickets. Click here for more information.