Puttin' on the grapes at Murphys



Although there are plenty of vineyards covering Calaveras County foothills, stomping grapes aren't that abundant this year.

Ironstone Vineyards wine-making director Steve Millier was on the phone much of yesterday trying to find the 5,000 pounds of grapes he'll deliver Saturday morning to Murphys Park for the 10th annual Calaveras Grape Stomp.

"Normally I get them from our vineyards in Lodi, but this year has been so topsy- turvy because of the weather that the crops are running short, so we're having real trouble getting grapes that are suitable for stomping," he said.

In other words, juicy grapes.

"We've got green grapes, but they don't give juice and that's what it's all about," he said. "You can stomp them all you want."

Millier and Kurt Kautz, who is in charge of farming operations at John Kautz Farms, discussed the situation yesterday and decided to pick Chardonnay grapes from the Deer Creek Vineyards just off the Cosumnes River near Sheldon.

Crews were hand picking today, and the harvest will be transported to Ironstone. The grapes will wait there until Saturday, when Millier will take them by flatbed truck to Murphys Park.

Meanwhile, Donna Schantz, Grape Stomp coordinator, is completing all the paperwork and picking up signs for the event.

She said she and her staff are jazzed about new see-through buckets that will allow onlookers to see just how much juice each grape-stomp team produces.

The clear buckets have quart and cup amounts clearly marked so observers can estimate who is winning by watching the juice rise.

While the grape stomp takes place in the park Saturday, just a block up the hill on Main Street, 120 vendors will sell crafts, art, antiques, collectibles and all kinds of food during the Gold Rush Street Fair.

Diane Gray, the vendor coordinator, spent part of yesterday painting booth spaces and numbers along both sides of Main Street.

"We have vendors from as far away as Las Vegas and Pasadena," she said.

The Union Democrat
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