The largest grape stomp in the country is at Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria. Not only are do they have some amazing property, but the second weekend in September, they host one of the largest grape stomps in the country. After spending such a short amount of time there, I can see why so many people attend. After my mom and I started stomping grapes at the Crow River Winery, we wanted to check out how some of the other locations do it. So this year we check out the Carlos Creek Grape Stomp.
We found out that stomping at the Carlos Creek Grape Stomp was a whole other deal. I learned a lot about this stomp and I might be up for round two next year, we’ll see. Every time you stomp, you learn a little more about the setup and what strategy to take. Even though you may watch the people ahead of time doing it, you don’t get a good idea of grape quantity, drain setup or any of the other details that make it vital. But once you’ve gone through it, you can regroup and do better next time around.
The Carlos Creek Grape Stomp
The stomping at the Carlos Creek Winery Grape Stomp is done on all three days of the festival and there are grand prize winners each day. The most popular day at the festival is Saturday. It’s also when admission and stomping fees are at a premium.
There were three main differences between this and the previous one I did in Crow River Grape Stomp. First and most notably was the style of the drain. Instead of a shower drain style with individual holes, this had a single whole. The only risk of clogging was from an unstomped grape. Our previous technique of clearing the seeds and skins from the drain, would not help us at all.
The is no time limit. Instead, it’s a stomp your heart out as fast as you can until you can reach the line on the bucket. The first team the line wins. This had everyone stomping like crazy for about 45 seconds before a winner is called. Any strategy changes needed to be done quickly.
The third difference was the number of grapes being squashed. They filled a 5 gallon pale of grapes for everyone to stomp. And in the end, there is a lot of unstomped grapes due to the sheer volume. At the other stomp, there isn’t much left at the end of the time.
The Grape Stomp Strategy
The trick is simple on this one. Get all the grapes pushed back away from the hole. I know it sounds counter-intuitive. With all the grapes piled up in the back, the stomper can go crazy. A little stamina will get you through it. If you leave grapes near the whole, they will clog it up and juice will not pour out. The bucket is angled slightly to allow the juice to pour out on its own.
The grapes being used gave a grape color in the collection pale, but surprisingly, it didn’t get the contestant or the mucker messy. I’m not sure which variety they used, but they must have had a higher water content. The stomper starting position was in a bucket of water placed outside the bin, which meant you also ended in water. This eliminated much tracking of grape juice around. They also gave everyone a fresh towel to get cleaned up in. I also noticed that there was little to no bee’s around. Probably because of the easy cleanup method they implemented.
The Carlos Creek Grape Stomp Festival
The stomping is only a small part of the festival. A lot of the action was held in the “Man Cave”. Inside they were serving August Schell’s and Fargo Brewery beers. They had tons of different food trucks serving some of the biggest assortment of amazing foods I’ve seen. They have attracted the widest variety of different foods I’ve ever seen, comparable only to a mini State Fair. You could easily spend the whole day there munching on the variety of different food options. If food it’t your thing, they also have over 150 different vendors selling their goods.
One of my biggest recommendations for anyone attending the Carlos Creek Grape Stomp is to take the shuttles. They have multiple pickup locations running throughout the festival. I opted to drive because it was going to get us there 2 hours earlier than we intended. They had ample parking, but getting home was another story. Since we were in the back, when we tried to leave, it took over an hour to get out of the lot. My parents who took a motorcycle had no problems getting out.
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