Big turnout at Richwood Winery festival
If last year’s inaugural Grape Stomp Festival at Richwood Winery was a (grape) smashing success, with upwards of 300 attendees and 12 teams of stompers, the second annual event was even more so.
“We had almost 500 people there, counting staff and kids,” said Richwood Winery co-owner Penny Aguirre.
“There were 426 paid (admissions) and 20 staff, plus vendors, kids and people who came after we quit charging admission,” said Nancy Olson, the winery’s event coordinator. “We had 40 stompers.”
The majority of those attending had come to watch the 20 two-person teams get their stomp on during the course of the afternoon, with this year’s title going to Joni Benson and Judi Kerr of Round Lake. Second place went to Brenda Rodick and Bev Grotho.
Four heats were held during the course of the afternoon, with placement being determined by the amount of juice produced from each barrel. After each heat, the crushed grapes were emptied from the vats and fresh ones were added.
“They were all our own Marquette grapes, and they were hand-picked,” Olson pointed out.
Though they didn’t win the stomp, Kelsey and Melissa Opsahl of Detroit Lakes did take first place in the costume contest for their impersonation of “Lucy and Ethel,” complete with the requisite red and blonde wigs. “They said it was a blast, and they’re already planning their costumes for next year,” said Aguirre.
Many who took part in this year’s competition admitted to being first-time stompers.
“This is our first year,” said Kayla Grasshoff, Fargo, who competed with friend Trisha Breker.
Competing in the same heat were Kristen Depree and Chad Brown, also of Fargo.
“We’re celebrating our fourth year anniversary,” Depree said.
“We got the fruit part of the traditional gifts,” joked Brown.
Though the grape stomp did provide much of the day’s entertainment, there were also vendors selling unique arts and crafts, gourmet fudge and more.
The afternoon’s musical entertainment was provided by Tucker’d Out, an up-and-coming trio of Fargo-Moorhead musicians who are gaining quite a reputation for playing grape stomp festivals across North Dakota and Minnesota.
“Our first gig was in August 2006, at The Winery in Fargo,” said John Trelstad, who plays mandolin and guitar.
His brother Lynn plays guitar and harmonica, while bass player Ryan Haug rounds out the group.
“We were at Carlos Creek (in Alexandria) last weekend, and Red Trail Vineyard (in Buffalo, N.D.) the weekend before that,” Lynn Trelstad added. “We have so much fun, watching people out there tapping their toes.”
Their motto, Lynn added, is, “if we’re not having fun, we’re not playing.”
A short distance away, Penny Aguirre was giving tours of the vineyard to interested guests, while others, like Fred Donovan of Moorhead, preferred to relax with a glass of wine and their favorite stogie.
“I really like it here,” Donovan said, adding that he had visited the winery a few times this summer.
So what happened to all those stomped grapes?
“The grapes are put in a compost pile,” Aguirre said.
“We don’t use them for wine,” Olson added.
For those who were unable to make it out to the festival this weekend, Richwood Winery will be open through October, and offers live music every Saturday this month.
The winery will also be hosting another special event later this month, the third annual Toast to Tamarac.
The Toast is scheduled to take place Friday, Sept. 27 from 4 to 8 p.m., with a silent auction, live music by the Dave Ferreira Trio, games of chance and appetizers — and of course, wine tasting.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door; the admission price includes a commemorative wine glass. They are available for purchase at Central Market, or by calling 218-846-9815 or 218-847-7193.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the environmental education programs at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, call Vonnie Jacobson, 218-847-7193, or Richwood Winery, 218-844-5990.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.