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The pandemic didn’t stop the stomp during the 27th annual celebration of the winegrape harvest in Calaveras County.

Traditionally staged on the first Saturday of October at Murphys Community Park, this year, the Grape Stomp was a little different.

Teams picked up a half wine barrel and 25 pounds of Syrah grapes provided by event sponsor Aloria Vineyards and headed home to get stomping. The event was hosted by the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance (CWA) via Zoom on Sept. 27 as teams of local families and wineries fought for dominance.

Some earned style and spirit points by creating their own custom backdrops, sporting Daisy Duke shorts and even writing a grape-themed song. In the skill category, teams were judged based on how well they could stomp their grapes within a three-minute period and how much juice they could pour into their measuring bucket in two minutes.

The winning team in the skill category, Crushing It, produced 5.8 liters of juice, while runners up Grape & Grain produced 5.75 liters. Video recordings of the virtual stomp and awards ceremony can be viewed on the CWA Facebook page

CWA Executive Director Sandra Hess and Morgan Gace, CEO of the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce, judged the event, while also assisting long-standing master of ceremonies, Doug Brown.

“We had a ball hosting the event online and chatting it up with such spirited stomp teams using Zoom,” Hess said. “The Calaveras Wine Region has been built by so many with prospecting and innovative spirits. We took a different approach to make this annual tradition happen and the community came alongside to see it through! Not only did we see many of our past stomp teams but also welcomed first-time stompers this year.”

This year’s Grape Stomp honored the late Steve Collum, lead vineyard manager in Calaveras wine country and owner of Vineyard Concepts, who died in August.

“Steve was a significant part of the Calaveras Wine Region and brought an innovative approach to vineyard management as he also designed his own vineyard sun-blocking solution,” Hess said. “Steve helped many of our winery and grower members achieve their goals, and this year’s Grape Sponsor, Aloria Vineyards, received their sustainable vineyard certification thanks to Steve. He will always be remembered for his generous heart and care for this wine community.”

In the days following the Grape Stomp, the event’s silent auction also went online, raising funds for the CWA’s High School Scholarship Program, parks and community organizations. The total amount raised has yet to be determined, though a target goal has been set for $4,500.

“We hope to meet our commitments to many again this year, even though we had to move away from the park and go online,” Hess said. “We are grateful for the support of our business community.”

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