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Richwood Winery Grape Stomp contestants jump feet first into barrels of grapes during the first-ever event Saturday afternoon. Photo by - Brian Basham

Stomping up a storm

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

With approximately 300 paid guests and "12 teams of enthusiastic stompers," the Richwood Winery's inaugural Fall Festival and Grape Stomp was "successful beyond our expectations," said Nancy Olson, event coordinator for the winery.

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"The best thing was that everyone seemed to be having a great time, and we got a lot of positive feedback," she added.

In fact, Saturday's event was so successful that "we're already planning our second annual (Grape Stomp)," Olson said Monday. "We just started looking at dates."

The winners of the winery's first-ever Grape Stomp were Larry and Gail Murphy, while the team of Stacy and Roland Sayler took second place.

An impromptu award was also given to Judy Kerr of Ponsford, for "Best Style and Most Enthusiasm," Olson said.

Most importantly, she added, "everyone was having fun."

One of the most enthusiastic stompers at the winery on Saturday was Debra Langerud of Audubon, who called out cheerfully, "This is my tribute to Lucy" (i.e., Lucille Ball, whose famous grape stomping scene on her television show, "I Love Lucy," is still played frequently to this day).

"Lucy is my favorite (actress)," she added.

Besides the grape stomp itself, the event also

featured live music from Tucker'd Out, food and craft vendors, and of course, wine tasting.

"We had a lot of people there who were first time wine tasters," Olson said.

"We had 288 commemorative wine glasses made for the event, and they were sold out."

What made the event even more exciting, Olson added, was that the first trailer load of grapes for the new wine-making season was delivered just before the festival started Saturday afternoon.

"We started crushing grapes and making wine on Sunday morning," Olson said, adding that the entire process would last two or three weeks.

"We're doing all the Minnesota grapes first," she said, noting that while they try to use as much local product as possible, some of the varieties of grapes they need simply cannot be grown in Minnesota, and must be transported from California.

Once the grapes are crushed, and the stems and seeds removed, "everything goes into the tanks (for fermenting). Then we add the yeast."

The wine is then stored in the tanks until it has aged sufficiently for bottling.

There will be ample opportunity to get a glimpse of the grape harvesting process this Friday, Sept. 14, at Richwood Winery, when they will open the front gates once more for the second annual Toast to Tamarac, benefiting the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.

The fundraiser, which runs from

4 to 8 p.m., will feature wine tasting, appetizers, live music by the Dave Ferreira Trio and games of chance. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and proceeds will help support environmental education programming at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, which connects children with nature.

Advance tickets may be purchased at Central Market, or at Richwood Winery, which is located at 27799 County Highway 34, Callaway.

For more information about upcoming events, please visit the website, richwoodwinery.com, or call 218-844-5990.

You can also e-mail Nancy Olson at nancy@richwoodwinery.com.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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