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What is grape stomping?

  • September 28, 2018

Grape-stomping, or pigeage, is a traditional way of macerating grapes so that their juices can be released to turn into wine!

It’s pretty simple – grapes are collected in a wooden vat with an open top and a spigot, and the grape stomper rolls up the cuffs of their pants, climbs in and commences to stepping, stomping, and jumping into the grapes until they release all their sweet juice.

It may seem unsanitary, but it’s really not! Stompers do a quick wash before climbing in, but that’s really all that’s necessary, because the alcohol production process actually kills any pathogens that may be introduced to the grapes by the feet.

Do you still feel grossed out? Don’t worry, these days most grapes are crushed with industrial machines that are better able to extract every ounce of juice from the grapes we’ve worked so hard for all year. However, it is important to remember that pigeage is actually a longstanding tradition that has helped to create some of the finest wines known to humanity. Those industrial processes are relatively new developments, and the world’s most famous vineyards have relied on little more than bare feet and elbow grease for centuries. If you think about it, it’s actually weirder to not make wine with feet!

Even though grape stomping is no longer how most wine is made, it’s still a fun tradition in which you can take part. In fact, a Roman sarcophagus from around 200 AD depicts a rural festival where peasants are stomping grapes – that means this has been the case for over 1800 years.

Why is grape-stomping such a longstanding tradition? Maybe because it’s fun.Come visit the Napa Valley during October for Crush season and find out just how much of a blast it is to take off your shoes and make some wine.

Be sure to book your room now at the Hotel Indigo Napa Valley so you don’t miss out on all the fun of Harvest and Crush! Rooms are already filling up fast – book your vacation as soon as you can!


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