The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

September 30, 2013

A stomping good time

BATAVIA — Not even heavy rain would keep wine enthusiasts from helping Cedar Valley Winery celebrate the harvest season Saturday.

The winery's second annual Grape Stomp gave visitors a chance to see how the juice was extracted from the grape in the good old days before presses — using just your feet. And it was just like the movies and television portray it.

"This is basically how they used to get the juice out before presses, way back in the day," Stephen Miller, one of the winery's owners, explained. "Back then it was something they had to do, and now it's just fun."

The unique experience of kicking off your shoes and turning grapes into juice with your feet drew a crowd from all across the state. Kim Bartosh and Barb Norton, the first stompers of the afternoon, had come from the Des Moines area especially for this event with pictures of the "I Love Lucy" episode in their heads.

"When we came, I pictured Lucy and Ethel in the larger barrel, but we can make it a competition this way," Norton said.

The smaller wine barrels had spouts attached, and several bags of grapes were poured into each one. The bare-footed wine stompers could then race to see who filled their glasses first.

Miller used the time between stompers to educate them on the wine-making process, which extends far beyond feet in a barrel. Eight tons of grapes will only make about 700 gallons of juice, and each gallon weighs about eight pounds. Each year, Cedar Valley Winery produces 3,000 gallons.

He also explained that this was how this winery also got its start.

"This is how we made our first wine, that first-ever batch, but it was for home use only," he said.

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