In “I Love Lucy” fashion, guests of the Peju Province Winery enjoyed a friendly competition of stomping grapes at the Stomping Man annual event, last August 24, 2013. With beautiful gardens and great art, the winery is conveniently located in Highway 29, in the heart of Napa Valley. This year marks the winery’s 30th anniversary as a family-owned winery in the Napa Valley and the tenth anniversary for the annual grape stomping.
Due to the increased popularity, the stomping of the grapes was taken to the next level by relocating it to the center of their Rutherford Estate. The annual event was renamed this year as the “Stomping Man” in a nod to the now iconic festival the “Burning Man” that takes place in the middle of the Nevada desert.
With warm weather, the celebration started at 10:00 AM with a special tasting of Peju wines served with a continental breakfast at the winery Tower, one of the tallest and unique buildings in the Napa Valley. Guests were transported via hayrides and horse drawn carriage to the Stomping Man event, among Peju’s Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford vineyards. Not to worry, no Peju grapes were harmed during the event! We were told that grapes used for stomping are grapes grown and used for that purpose only.
Horse Drawn Carriage was provided by the Napa Valley Carriage Company. Graceful French Percheron horses Sparky and Ike, brought from Amish Country by Blue North Ranch, gave a special touch of “times gone by” to the event. "Lucile Ball" impersonators received guests to the event and provided cheers to the stompers throughout the event.
The Stomping Man tournament, began shortly after Noon. A lineup of barrels set the stage for the event, and there were eight rounds in the competition. During each round, every barrel was assigned to a team of two people. Once the round was completed, the team that stomped the most juice was named the round winner and was able to qualify to compete in the final round. Teams were encouraged to be creative with their team names. To no surprise they were! Teams chose names like: Wine and Roses, Smashing Mamas, Peju Pounders, Stompaholics, Happy Feet, Thelma and Louise, Statutory Grapes, Pulverizers, Grapes of Fury and Grapes of Wrath, among others. The winning team named the 2013 Grand Stomp Champions was the Stompaholics, husband and wife Tamara and Jerry Zakrzewski. The winning team received crowns made from Peju corks, a “Stomping Man” trophy and goodie basket with Peju treats.
Grounds for the event were tastefully prepared, and guests were able to enjoy the unique event with great food and wine. Event organizers did a great job assuring everybody had a good time. As always, Peju’s hospitality shines through. Certainly that is why the event it is so popular and people come time and time again.
It does not hurt that everybody was able to enjoy great Peju wines. One of the wines featured at the event, from Sisters Ariana and Lisa Peju, was 2011 Tess. A red and white wine blend made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Petite Verdot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It is a wine that encapsulates the taste of the vineyard, aromatic wine showing crisps ripe strawberry and raspberry notes. Not to be confused; in the palette has a beautiful dry, mouth watering, long lasting and elegant finish with surprising quenching characteristics. Served chilled Tess was the perfect wine for the Stomping Man!
Other wines showcased at the event were 2011 Peju Sauvignon Blanc with bright, aromatic and luscious fruit, and 2009 Peju Merlot with lovely aromatic notes of berries and well-balanced long lasting finish. All great wines to pair with the excellent BBQ served at the event.
Should stomping grapes is in your “Bucket list,” mark your calendar for next year's event.