On our last morning in Napa, we woke up after a night of entirely too much wine to find even more wine at breakfast!
The food at Solage Calistoga was truly tremendous (dungeness crab and avocado bagels that I still dream about!) and the make-your-own-cocktail bar, complete with three different Californian sparkling wines, fresh juices, bitters, and fruits, gave me great inspiration for hosting my own decadent brunch.
After savoring brunch, we were put to work. It was time for grape stomping.
Everyone has the mental image of being waist-high in grapes with purple juices spewing everywhere but in reality, it’s actually a relatively clean process. Juice from fresh grapes only takes on its deep color after fermentation, so even our colleague wearing a dress shirt and tie didn’t have to worry about dirtying his duds.
Once we were divided up into teams, the stomping began. Each team member had exactly the same amount of allotted time to crush, stomp, smash, press as much as they could while another teammate captured the flowing juice from the barrel. You couldn’t grab or lean on the barrel for leverage, so the whole process was slightly slippery and nerve wracking, as you’re trying to crush as many grapes as possible without wiping out in the barrel (à la this poor lady).
In the end, the jugs were weighed and the winning team was crowned. Thanks to our furious stomping abilities, our quartet took home the grand prize—a bottle of Barefoot wine for each winning team member. Our bottles, emblazoned with “GRAPE STOMP VICTOR!”, now proudly live on our bookcase.