They say you can tell a lot about a wine by looking at its legs. These days, though, Keel and Curley Winery has been interested in yours.
The winery has hosted several summer grape stomp events where patrons could pay to brave the slimy, squelchy sensations of the grape and citrus-filled buckets all afternoon. On June 1 and July 27, stompers came out in waves to kickstart the process of limited-edition wine and sangria that they’ll be able to try and buy later.
“Usually we’re pressing fruit with mechanical presses, but this gives people a chance to really get involved with our wine,” Keel Farms director of operations Jacob Stills said.
The July 27 stomp, which was all about sangria, got people into the buckets to mash up a blend of the winery’s grapes and blueberries, navel oranges and limes. It also featured wine samples from the June 1 stomp, which was so successful the winery decided to scrap the idea of doing it once a year in favor of doing it more frequently.
“We had weeks of people asking, ‘When are you doing it again?’” Stills said. “There’s a lot of joy. Everyone gets up there and they’re not sure at first. It’s cold. It’s slimy. When they get done, there’s just the biggest smiles.”
Many stompers, like first-timer Patrick Lucas, were excited to get in the bucket and get up close and personal with their sangria.
“It’s a little cold at first, shocking on the toes, but after a while it kind of feels like you’re stepping on a squishy little jelly ball,” Lucas said. “It’s good fun. I wanted to sample it when I was stomping on it. It looked pretty good… as long as I’m drinking mine, it’s OK.”
For other people, what Stills jokingly calls “foot-gria” is going to be an automatic hard pass just because of the initial production method. But Stills and the winery have been diligent to make sure absolutely nothing gross from the stompers’ feet actually makes it into the final product.
“So we do wash everyone’s feet with a no-rinse sanitizer, but before we do anything with the wine it gets a sulfide bath,” Stills said. “Similar to how they clean fruit before you eat it, before it gets to you. That way, it will kill off anything that wants to grow in the wine before we put in the yeast, which we want to grow. And the fermentation, that’s gonna be the predominant organism in there and it’s gonna kill off everything that wants to infect it.”
The only sickness anyone could get from it would likely involve a hangover.
The winery is making the sangria for its Aug. 24 Sangria Night, which is when the stompers will finally be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The festival will also feature an outdoor Latin market with Cuban and Mexican food, hand-rolled cigars and more.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” Stills said.
To hear about upcoming events and get tickets for future grape stomps, follow the winery on Facebook at facebook.com/KCWinery.