By Hollie Deese
If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to stomp juice from a pile of grapes, your opportunity is fast approaching. For this year’s 17th Annual Grape Stomp at Sumner Crest Winery in Portland, two tons of grapes are getting shipped in for the sole purpose of squishing.
In fact, the first three hours of the family-friendly event will be devoted to rewarding participants for their stomping skills with prizes and a unique experience.
“We give some prizes to who can stomp the most juice out of the grapes,” says Sherie Ellis, marketing and gift manager at Sumner Crest Winery. “And we do have a kids division, and the kids really seem to love it.”
After three hours of stomping, most people interested in participating will have a chance to do so, although there have been a few years where the demand has been too high because the free event has grown in popularity as kid-friendly activities have been added over the years.
“You’re welcome to bring your kids – it is not a barroom atmosphere at all,” Ellis says. “We give a donation to the Shriner’s Clowns to come and entertain, and it’s more of a family event than it used to be.”
Ellis says people come from all over middle Tennessee and many other states to spend the weekend for the stomp. “It’s really a big day for us” she says. “It’s probably our biggest day of the year.”
After the stomp, the Soul Soup Band will take the stage to perform from 6:30-9:30 p.m. covering classic songs from the 1960s through current hits on the radio.
“Everybody just brings their lawn chairs or blankets,” Ellis says. “We have a dance floor and we kind of kick back, and after they stomp with their feet, then they’ll dance. The concert is always nice at night, and the band usually plays a little bit of everything, something that everybody can sing along to and knows.”
There is no charge for the stomp contest or the concert, and people may purchase and enjoy a bottle of Sumner Crest wine on the lawn. However, no other alcohol is permitted. Food vendors will be on site, including plenty of snacks, dips and Tennessee cheeses from the winery’s extensive gift shop, but everyone is welcome to bring a picnic lunch, too.
“By the end of the night, the lawn is completely packed, and it’s usually flowing over into the parking lot too,” Ellis says. “We have a lot of customers that have come for years, but then we have people that every year are coming for the first time and saying ‘I’ll be back.’”
And as for the juice created during the stomp, don’t expect to find it in next year’s vintage. After trying to use it once, years ago, it became clear it is just not worth the trouble.
“It’s just for fun and just having a good time with friends,” Ellis says. “Seeing it all happen, it’s just a nice atmosphere to be in.”