Friday, October 17, 2008

The Event Grapevine: Oct. 17-19

Sugarloaf Winery, Dickerson, Md.
Grape Stomp
Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

One of the great joys of updating this blog is having the excuse to call Jim McKenna, co-owner of
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in Dickerson, Md. There isn’t a story he hasn’t seen fit to tell, including where he got the idea for the Grape Stomp, which will be held for the second time this weekend at his Frederick County winery after a successful debut last year.

“My wife and I used to own a house down in Virginia, in the northern neck of Virginia,” he said the other day, “and a guy down there who’s a heck of a promoter put in a vineyard and he had a stomp and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really sounds kind of cool, and it went over very, very well. Bill Westbrook, I think his name is. . . . He was up in New York and he was a real maker and a shaker, but he loved it down in northern neck, and in this little town, and so he decided he’d put in this vineyard. He didn’t build a winery. Not yet anyway. He may some day. And he had this stomp and I thought, now, the reason why I thought it would be a success is because he actually pulled a Tom Sawyer on the townsfolk. You have to guess what he did. His place is called White Fences, and he literally managed to snooker about 60 people to come in and to pay 10 dollars apiece to have the privilege of painting his fence, and they came in. And I thought, if this guy can pull this thing off, then he knows what he’s doing. So I followed his lead on the stomp . . . we decided to go ahead and do it, and we really were playing it off the seat of our pants, and we got a couple of bands, one on a Saturday and one on a Sunday, and then we stole the idea of how to try to do this thing. We took half a barrel, three half-barrels, and put them up on a platform. Now we didn’t get as elaborate as he did; I mean he got the thing to be on springs and do all sorts of stuff. But we decided that could just simply put it on tilt and we could have little contests.

So we put them up on the platform and we have the three half-barrels and we have a little contest of 30 seconds you stomp away, and I play the
tarantella, cause I kind of like that … dat-da-dat-da-dat-da-da . . . that kind of thing . . . I have a little boombox, and they really got into it. Mostly it was little kids and women of any age. The men they’re too machismo, nahhh, that’s beneath their dignity. But the women loved it and so when the band takes a break for about 20 minutes or a half-hour, I have a bullhorn and I say whatever comes into my head and get them going. And whoever gets the most juice out of the there gets a free glass of wine. And if it’s a kid we give them a chocolate bar or something like that. And so it’s been a great attraction. We had had about a thousand people or more last years and we expect maybe twice as many this year. We’ve had a lot of interest.”

McKenna said the grapes of choice for the stomp are brought in from other vineyards; last year they were a mix of 60 percent Chambourcin from Pennsylvania and 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from Virginia. And, no, the juice did not go into a bottle, although indirectly the stomp provided the impetus for a new wine by the same name.

“We weren’t searching out the finest wine grapes,” McKenna said, continuing his story. We were looking to find something that people would go stomping on. But the funny part of it is, once we finished with the stomp after the two days . . . we had all these grapes left over, and we said, ‘Well, what are we going to do with them?’ And decided, let’s make some wine. That’s the
Stomp wine. Now some people look at you kind of funny and think, ‘Am I drinking wine that somebody’s feet have been on?’ And we have to tell them, ‘No, no, no, don’t be worried about that.’ It’s regular grapes that were left over and then we put a lot of sugar in it. Let me just tell you. It’s our fun wine, but it sells.”

One other note. The winery has been looking for volunteers to work the stomp, essentially pouring wine samples. For doing that, you would receive free admission, a complimentary bottle of Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard wine, and a chance to hear Jim orchestrate the tarantella. In other words, a pretty doggone good time. Training is provided. Contact Kathy O'Donoghue at or 30.-365.5044 or call Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard at 301.605.0130.

As for what else is on the docket this weekend, take a look:


Adams County Winery, Ortanna: Saturday, home winemaking class with John, the vintner; 1 to 3 p.m., tuition is $25 and reservations are required. You’ll learn tricks of the trade and how to get the best product from a kit,

Amore Vnieyards, Bath: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Big Creek Vineyard, Kunkletown: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Blue Mountain Vineyards, New Tripoli: Fall Foliage Tasting ($$), Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.; Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Chaddsford Winery, Chaddsford: Reserve tastings ($$), Saturday, sittings at 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m., Spiced Apple Sundays ($$), Oct. 19 and 25, noon to 5 p.m., picnic on the grounds, music from 2 to 5 p.m., tours and tastings, fee is for hot mulled wine tastings; Wine 101: The Basics ($$), Thursday, Oct. 23, 7 to 9 p.m., learn how to taste, how to identify basic wine types & styles and how to order and buy the wines you like successfully and confidently. Reservations at 610.388.6221,

Cherry Valley Vineyards, Saylorsburg: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Clover Hill, Breinigsville: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., wine pairings and cooking demonstrations,

Clover Mill Farm Vineyards & Winery, Chester Springs: Open again, Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m.,

Country Creek Winery, Telford: Country Creek Winery in the Barn, Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m., the Britton Brothers,

Crossing Vineyards & Winery, Washington Crossing: Wine Tasting for Singles ($$), Friday, 7 to 9 p.m.; Wine Tasting for Dummies ($$), Sunday, 2 p.m.; Harvest Winemaker’s Dinner ($$), Saturday, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., five-course dinner with Crossing’s award-winning reds,

Hauser Estate Winery, Biglerville: New winery open, Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.,

Franklin Hill Vineyards, Bangor: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Galen Glen Vineyard & Winery, Andreas: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Moon Dancer Vineyards & Winery, Wrightsville: Music Friday (6 to 9 p.m.) and Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.; Meet the Artist Reception, Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m., Jim Sullenberger, with original music by A.D. Chandler and his Imaginary Band,
Mount Hope Estate and Winery, Manheim: Annual Mount Hope Wine Sale, 25 percent discount mix and match, goes through the end of October,

Naylor Wine Cellars, Stewartstown: Home for the Holidays dinner ($$), Saturday, Nov. 8, 3 to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 9, 2 to 5 p.m., reservations required,

Pinnacle Ridge, Kutztown: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Sand Castle Winery, Erwinna: Harvest Festival, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Cabot Cheese will be there Saturday, noon to 4 p.m., for wine and cheese pairings, cellar tours, $5, tastings of nine wines, $5, you can also be there as they crush the Cabernet grapes, see how that’s done and be afford ed a taste,

Vynecrest Winery, Breinigsville: Chambourcin Weekend on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Saturday and Sunday,

Va La Vineyards, Avondale: The Last Little Vineyard Concert of the Summer, Saturday, Far Cat Bar B Q, The Fat Cat Jazz Trio, open 12:01 to 5:54 p.m. Saturday and Sundays (no, this is not a misprint),


Black Ankle Winery, Mt. Airy: Open for business, winner of Maryland Governor’s Cup in 2008; hours: Wednesday - Friday: noon to 5 p.m., Saturday: noon to 6 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.,
information on winery at this link

Linganore Wine Cellars, Mt. Airy:
Vintage Jazz Wine Festival ($$), Saturday and Sunday,
information at this link

Other MARYLAND winery events can be found at
this link, VIRGINIA events at this link and New York events at this link


Shrewsbury Fall Fest, Shrewsbury, Pa., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Shrewsbury Historic Village, Seven Valleys Vineyard & Winery will be offering tastings and light appetizers in their Shrewsbury shop,
information at this link

Autumn Wine Festival ($$), Salisbury, Md., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, 12:30 to 6 p.m., $20 in advance, $25 at the gate, includes glass and tastings,
information at this link

$$ – Admission charge