March 1, 2012

[This post is a part of the Vab1 Initiative]

Dating back thousands of years, grape crushing  continues to be a ritual in all the wine-producing regions of Europe, and it's said that this process results in better-tasting wine, if done the right way.

Grape Stomping Historical Facts: When & Why Grape Stomping Started

  • Grape stomping goes back as far as Rome in 200 BC. 
  • For centuries, grapes were picked by hand and grape stomping was the method by which the juice was extracted from the grapes to be used to make wine. This was done in every country that made wine.
  • In the U.S., most grape stomping by human feet was legislated out of existence by the end of the twentieth century. The concern for public health outweighed the grape stomping tradition, and people didn’t want to think about the fact the someone’s bare feet had touched the wine they were enjoying with dinner. 
  • While most other countries eventually banned grape stomping too, but there are still some countries outside of North America where grapes are still stomped by humans.
  • Since the 1960s, grape stomping has been replaced with mechanical processing. The grape harvest is picked by machines and then the juices are pressed out of the grape by machines rather than by grape stomping. 
  • There are many small vineyards where grapes are still picked by hand but then they are transported to the winery for pressing. 
  • Many hillside vineyards are too steep for machinery to pick the grapes, but still the harvest is pressed by equipment that separates the juice from the skin and seeds.
Modern Day Grape Stomping Facts: How Grape Stomping became popular once again
  • The public’s awareness of grape stomping is credited to the “I Love Lucy” show in the 1950s, where Lucy is seen in Italy stomping grapes in large vat. 
  • After that, the public started getting interested in the process of winemaking and vineyards started holding festivals at grape harvest time where individuals pay a fee to stomp grapes and drink their fill of wine. 
  • Many times the profits from these grape stomping festivals go to charities. 
  • The stomped grapes are not used for wine or anything else but discarded after the event.
  • The grapes are also usually ones which are not good enough to be used in a saleable product. In the making of red wines, many times the grapes are not crushed, but just the stems are removed. 
  • For those grapes that are  machine harvested, the savings in time and money makes it well worth it. A mechanical harvester can run 24 hours a day and can pick anywhere from 80 to 200 tons of grapes a day, compared with one or two tons by hand pickers.
Grape Stomping Video from "I Love Lucy"

Video from Grape Stomping Festival in Bangalore, India


More Photos on the Fun of Grape Stomping:



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