Step into winemaking at these Oregon wineries

A traditional German band is playing, and on a stage builtfrom an old wine vat, two dancers kick up their heels. As the crowdcheers wildly, the couple dances faster and faster. Abruptly themusic stops, and the barefooted dancers step from a tub, their feetstained with grape juice. They haven’t just been dancing, they’vebeen stomping grapes.

September is harvest season, and this month, two Oregon wineries― St. Josef’s Winery and Cellar, and Willamette ValleyVineyards ― will be holding their annual grape stomps.Although you can jump into the action at either winery, the twoevents are as different as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The grape stomp at St. Josef’s Winery and Cellar outside Aurorais all fun and feasting. At long tables, people sip wine and fillup on bratwurst and sauerkraut. Then comes the real fun: To thebeat of a German band, the grape stomp begins.

“We choose two names from a hat, a boy and a girl,” says JosefFleischmann, who, with his wife, Lilli, owns St. Josef’s. “Theydon’t know each other, but after a minute or two, they do. It’smore fun to be embarrassed with a total stranger.”

At Willamette Valley Vineyards, on the other hand, tension hangsin the air as serious competitors discuss strategies for gettingthe most juice out of their grapes. There’s a lot at stake, afterall: The winning team goes on to the national championships.

Besides a stomper, each team includes a swabby, whose job is tomake sure skins and seeds don’t block the pipe that runs to thejuice-collection jug. Compared to the swabby, the stomper has iteasy. “It’s the swabby who wins the stomp,” says Jim Bernau,president of Willamette Valley Vineyards.

It’s a serious competition, but with a band playing, wineflowing, and families picnicking on the lawns, it’s also a barrelof fun.

Let the stopming begin

Both grape stomps take place the weekend of September 21-22,2002. Food and wine are available.

St. Josef’s Winery and Cellar. Noon-dark; $7.50 entry feeper person (includes souvenir wine glass and three tastes). 28836S. Barlow Rd., Canby (from Aurora, drive north on State 99E andturn right at Barlow); (503) 651-3190.

Willamette Valley Vineyards. 11-6; $5 entry fee fortwo-person team; free tastings. 8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner(south of Salem, take exit 248 or 244 off I-5); (800) 344-9463 or(503) 588-9463.

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