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Dec. 14, 2019
10:27 am


Have a foot stomping good time at vineyard harvest fests

By Jane Harrison 
Folks will be stomping feet and smashing grapes in the hills north of Lake Lanier late this month as vineyards celebrate the harvest. 
More than 25 wineries dot the North Georgia mountains where clusters of Merlot, Cabernet and Viognier are ripening in the August sun. In Georgia wine country, vines spread from as far north as Blairsville through Dahlonega and westward into Ellijay. As of late July, vintners would not speculate about the potential abundance of this year’s crop. Regardless of the harvest, loads of fun are about to be uncorked at four wineries with harvest festivals coming up. And in case you’re wondering, the grapes stomped underfoot never make it into a bottle. “That would be gross,” a winery hostess declared. Squishing grapes is merely a messy ceremonial recreation.
Yonah Mountain Vineyard Crush Fest 
Want some accordion with your wine? Get that, plus food truck fare, crafts and more at the 10th Annual Crush Fest at the Cleveland vineyard.  Owners Bob and Jane Miller, accordion player and guitarist respectively, will be among the musicians serenading grape stompers near the foot of Yonah Mountain. Attendees can bare their feet and step into big vats to dance upon the grapes. Winery spokesperson Jennifer Green said most activities will take place outdoors at the elegant winery with a large covered patio and spectacular views of the vines and mountain. The tradition attracts more than 5,000 people from around the Southeast, Green said.The day-long festival includes hourly performances from the owners, the Crush Fest Drumline and Atlanta Pipe Band, plus crafts for sale by 10 regional and national artists.
  • Admission: $40 per person, includes four 3-ounce wine tastings and a souvenir glass, plus all activities.
  • When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 24
  • Where: 1717 Hwy. 255 S., Cleveland
Kaya Vineyard & Winery Spirit of Harvest Festival
Bluegrass music and barbecue pair well with wine at this rustic countryside vineyard, formerly the home of Blackstock Vineyard outside of Dahlonega. Tasting room manager Katie Trammel expects the crew will haul plenty of grapes up to the crush pad for lots of squishy fun. “It’s been a great season so far with just the amount of rain,” she said in mid-July. “But you never know” what might happen in the weeks before picking time. Food options include salads, panini, sandwiches and meat and cheese plates from the winery’s dining room. Educational discussions and a trivia contest round out the day.
  • Admission: $20, includes five tasting tickets, souvenir glass, grape stomping, and educational preview of harvest season.
  • When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 31
  • Where: 5400 Town Creek Rd., Dahlonega
Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery Grape Stomp Fest
Grape stompers go solo in mini-wine barrel containers, one person per barrel, on the wine patio with gorgeous views of nearby ridges. Live music, vendors, a kids’ tent, and “Lucy Look-Alike” contest bring an eclectic mix to the mountains. Guests can step from the barrel onto paper to put their footprints on a souvenir poster, said hostess/manager Ilke Lander.
  • Admission: $25, includes tastings, souvenir glass
  • When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 31; grape stomping 2 and 4 p.m.
  • Where: 366 Paradise Rd., Blairsville

Cartecay Vineyards Crush Festival
Move over apple trees, there’s another fruit growing in the Cartecay River basin near Ellijay. Cartecay Vineyard put vines in the ground about a decade ago, becoming the first wine-making venture in apple orchard territory. The site’s original 1890s-era stone chimney rises from a patio and covered stage overlooking the vines near the two-story wood barn tasting room. The winery celebrates the harvest with two days of live music, local craft sales, food truck barbecue, and wine tasting. Guests can crush the grapes in wooden half barrels. Winery manager Alease Purdy recommends touring the vineyard with the owner in a tractor drawn trailer with bench seats. She also expects attendees will love special t-shirts bearing the image of Junior, the winery’s Irish setter/golden retriever mix who’s been there since wee vines took root.
  • Admission: $20 presale, $25 day of event; includes grape stomping, four 3-ounce tastings, vineyard tours, souvenir plastic wine mug.
  • When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 24, 12:30-6 p.m. Aug. 25
  • Where: 5704 Clear Creek Rd., Ellijay

Posted online 7/26/19
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