A grape stomping good time
Oct 1, 2012 / 8:52 pm
The 16th annual Festival of the Grape took place Sunday afternoon at the Oliver Community centre with hundreds of wine aficionados standing shoulder to shoulder with weekend warriors.
They all came out in force to sample over 200 different wines from 50 different vineyards located around the Okanagan Valley.
The event was put on by the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce and festivities included music, art, food and of course the legendary Grape Stomp.
"It's a messy event, but it's tons of fun," explained Petra Veintimilla, who presided over the festival dressed as Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.
"Teams of three people… stand in a grape barrel and crush until their hearts content, the grape juice comes out of a little tube and whoever collects the most grape juice at the end of the allotted time wins. And then at the end we have the finale with the winners from all three heats."
The grape stomp drew large crowds, with festival goers hooting and hollering as they shouted encouragement to the competitors -- some of whom came from as far away as Vancouver.
"We were talked into it by one of our friends that is running the grape stomp here," says Ron Rocher, who is a sommelier from North Vancouver.
"We'll be back again next year, this was our warm up."
Rocher says his team went through a number of name changes before the event began, finally settling on 'No Juice'. It became fitting as his team finished third in their heat and did not qualify for the finals.
"I struggled because I was the first guy in, so I basically set up all the juice for everybody and they just came and cleaned up after me," laughed Rocher, who says he enjoys the feeling of grapes squishing between his toes.
"One of the hazards is that you can stub your toe inside the barrel. and you can't really feel it because you actually use your toe to clean the hole to get the juice through. I'll be talking to WCB about this, it's a dangerous sport."
In the end, every team went home a winner with prizes consisting of assorted bottles of wine and gift certificates to local winery restaurants along with bed and breakfast establishments.
Music for the afternoon was provided by Dehli 2 Dublin, a group from Vancouver that plays a mix of Bhangra and Celtic influenced tunes and the all ages event drew many children as well who took part in face painting, obstacle courses and their own grape stomp area.
Festival organizers say the event was another huge success and they're thrilled to continue the tradition into the future.
-- Ragnar Haagen
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