The Big Gay Grape Stomp
The harvest has begun, and with it come the best parties of the year in Napa Valley. Given the losses from the earthquake, there has never been a better time to spend in support of the shaken community. While harvest means 18-hour days for wineries and vineyard workers, it means parties everywhere and grape-stained feet for visitors. In chronological order, here are a few of our favorites. Be sure to get your tickets early and plan ahead, as events sell out quickly.
Schweiger Vineyards Harvest Stomp is a bit pricey, but the views are magical and you get to participate in all of the action: pick the grapes, stomp them, and even test the brix (sugar level). When the “work” is done, they’ll bring you lunch and you can taste through their selection of estate wines while you gaze out at the Valley.
Thursday, September 18
$200 | $125 wine club
At the Castello Di Amorosa you not only get to stomp grapes at a castle, you get to compete against 100 other stompers for prizes. Known to be the best place in Napa Valley for a party, The Castello will also have wine, food, dancing, tours, tank tastings, and even shuttles for those staying in Calistoga.
Saturday, September 20
$115 | $95 wine club
The third-annual Sterling Vineyard Grape Stomp & BBQ includes family-style barbeque, live music, and wine on their “great lawn”. Once you’re nice and full, and you’ve tried all the wines, jump into their grape-stomp competition and pumpkin-carving contest. This fun event is well worth the friendly price.
Saturday, September 27
$50 | $25 wine club
A couple weeks after their September 13 Harvest Ball, V. Sattui Winery is hosting a crush party and open house. Here you’ll learn firsthand about grape growing, crushing, production, cork making, and barrel building. Of course, you get to stomp grapes too. Expect a lot of people and a very casual atmosphere. And you should probably avoid wearing white.
Saturday, October 4
$105 | $85 wine club
LGBTA party planner extraordinaire, Out in the Vineyard, throws the highly-anticipated “The Big Gay Grape Stomp & Harvest Party” each year at Peju. Everyone is welcome to this wild event, and there are all sorts of saucy options like a VIP Cabana with bottle service, and a full service Barbeque lunch.
Saturday, October 18
$99 – $925
Grgich Hills Estate has a grape stomp every day of the week, and you don’t need reservations. You’ll almost always get to stomp grapes with founder Mike Grgich, and there are packages that turn the stomp into a full day of fun.
Join the Clif Family Farm Fest for an afternoon filled with family-oriented activities and plenty of vino. They’ll have wine tasting, food from their farm, additional local artisans, farm tours, live music, and activities for kids as well. They are also donating back to the “Seed Matters Organization.”
Saturday, September 27th
$70 | $50 Wine Club & CSA Members | Free for children Under 12
Ehlers Estate, a non-profit winery that supports healthy hearts, has an annual party that’s well known by locals and travelers for the big wines, lively hospitality, and tasty barbeque. Like Pine Ridge, this coveted winery is elegant, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. So bring your dancing shoes, and bibs if you’re a messy eater, and get down with the live band, bold reds, and friendly folks.
Saturday, October 4th
$60 | $40 wine club
Somerston Estate is over 1600 acres and a perfect place for a 4-wheel drive tour or vineyard party. Keeping things fun and messy, this laidback winery is hosting a lobster feed in the vineyards, with new releases and a spattering of other outdoor activities. While Somerston is a bit off the beaten path, it’s well-worth the drive.
Saturday, October 4
$95 | $80 wine club
Sullivan Vineyards is conveniently located just of Highway 29, and their wines are as well crafted, elaborate and lush as their gardens, lake, and grassy grounds. Sullivan is hosting a dinner with farm to table cuisine, from their own gardens, paired with new releases and sneak peaks of upcoming vintages.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
5:30 – 9:30pm
$125 | $95 wine club
Pine Ridge Vineyards is hosting their annual Harvest Celebration Dinner in the Caves. Pine Ridge is folded neatly into a vine-covered valley nook, and has multiple patios and tasting areas as well as cave filled with barrels and colorful decorative glass. Mingle with passed hors d’oeuvres and wines, and then head into the caves for an elegant candlelit dinner.
Saturday, October 25
$175 | $150 wine club
If you’re a fan of mountain wines, join the fourth-annual Howell Mountain Harvest Celebration and raise a glass to the 30th anniversary of their AVA. There will be over 18 producers at the party, taking place at the Napa Valley Museum. So this is a great way to get acquainted with the wines from that area and try a ton of tasty, tannic Cabernet.
Saturday, November 1
1:00 – 4:00pm
Click HERE for a ever-growing list of 2014 Harvest events.
CRASHING THE CRUSH 2014
Drink With the Pros: A new industry clubhouse.
Stomp the Hell out of Some Grapes: Tap your inner Lucy.
Assess the Aftershocks: How to lend a hand to the recovery.
Eat Killer Grub: Don't let the quake quell your appetite.
Thank the (Mostly) Merciful Wine Gods: Why it could have been worse.
Toast to Unharmed Bottles: Warm-weather drinking at its finest.
Find Serenity on the Silverado Trail: The newest attractions not on Highway 29.
Party Like a Pro: The Best Wine Events
Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco