The first GrapeFest was a one-day event held on one block. About 900 people attended.
This year, for the 30th annual GrapeFest — A Texas Wine Experience, tens of thousands of wine enthusiasts converged on downtown Grapevine over four days, beginning last Thursday.
“GrapeFest began as a one-day event and took place along Main Street between Texas and Worth streets,” said Paul W. McCallum, executive director of the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Today, the festival has grown to a multi-week event, including everything from sports tournaments, international wines and the now-famous People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic.”
While GrapeFest featured wines from California’s Central Coast and Australia’s Barossa Valley, there was also plenty of Texas wine. The Lone Star State is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the United States. Grapevine is home to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and Texas’ premier Urban Wine Trail.
“When the festival began, there were about 30 wineries in Texas,” said Leigh Lyons, city spokeswoman. “Now, more than 300 wineries and 4,400 acres of producing vineyard farmland yields nearly three million gallons of Texas wine each year.”
This year GrapeFest featured:
Fine wine times
“A favorite is the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, the largest consumer-judged wine competition in the nation,” Lyons said.
Held at the Tasting Experience at Liberty Park, participants savored more than 140 Texas varietals from 39 Texas wineries.
Festival-goers checked out wines from California’s Central Coast, home to historic ranch lands, country roads, stay-a-while towns and grapes galore.
“Top vintners have transformed the Central Coast into one of the state’s premier wine regions, with hundreds of wineries to visit in the rolling hills and sunny valleys,” Lyons said. “… The grapes are among the oldest in the state, planted by Franciscan monks in the late 1700s.”
The Tasting Experience also featured wines from Australia’s Barossa Valley, home to more than 500 grape-growing families, many with the sixth generation still working the same plot of land of their ancestors, supplying quality grapes to more than 170 wine companies.
“Barossa incorporates both Barossa Valley and Eden Valley, making it one of the only areas in Australia to have neighboring warm and cool climate growing conditions,” Lyons said. “It has a diversity of growing conditions and soil types across both valleys, and vineyards that have been tended by hand for many generations.”
Purple feet reign
Another favorite event returned: the GrapeStomp competition. Teams of two took turns to stomp approximately 18 pounds of grapes for two minutes.
With grapes flying and feet stomping at GrapeStomp, two-time defending champions Lam Nguyen and Jorge Bermeo, both of Dallas, won the coveted Purple Foot Award for the third time. Throughout the festival, teams of two stomped 18 pounds of grapes for two minutes. Winners of the GrapeStomp daily sessions competed in the Grand Champion Stomp-Off on Sunday. Under the team name Awesome & Awesomer, Nguyen and Bermeo stomped a total of 36 ounces in the finale.
The 2016 Mayoral GrapeStomp featured 18 teams from across North Texas including Bedford, Colleyville, Combine, Euless, Grapevine, Haslet, Hurst, Irving, Keller, Mansfield, North Richland Hills, Pantego, Rowlett, Seagoville and Trophy Club as well as teams from Grapevine’s Sister City of Parras de la Fuente, Mexico, and West Lothian, Scotland. A team representing Barossa Valley Australia also participated in the competition.
The winners of the Most Juice Stomped Award, with 18.25 ounces, was the team from Hurst, featuring councilwoman Trasa Cobern and her husband, Kyle. Other winners included the team from Keller, which won the Most Likely to Get the Most Likes on Social Media and the team from Parras de la Fuente, which won the Best Costume.
Participants in the mayoral stomp included Grapevine Councilwoman Darlene Freed and Councilman Paul Slechta.
Before the event began, they decided that Slechta would jump in the vat and start stomping in hopes of getting the most grape juice.
“I have a bigger foot so it was the best plan,” Slechta said.
Festival co-chair Bruce Herndon said the festival was a hit, where “guests of all ages enjoyed everything from wine tastings to live entertainment to wonderful shopping and festival food and so much more.”
Wife Rene Herndon agreed, saying, “Having a successful 30th Annual GrapeFest is based on the thousand-plus volunteers and the civic and service organizations who make sure all who come to GrapeFest have a fabulous time.”
Winners of the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic are:
White Wines: Dry
▪ Gold: Wedding Oak Winery – Albarino, 2015
▪ Silver: Landon Winery – Viognier, 2015
▪ Bronze: Llano Estacado Winery – Cellar Reserve Chardonnay, 2014
White Wines: Off Dry
▪ Gold: Messina Hof Winery & Resort – Father & Son Riesling, 2015
▪ Silver: Wine Fusion Winery – Life’s A Beach, 2015
▪ Bronze: Becker Vineyards – Fleur Sauvage, 2012
White Wines: Sweet
▪ Gold: Landon Winery – Yellow Rose, NV
▪ Silver: Messina Hof Winery & Resort – Angel Late Harvest Riesling, NV
▪ Bronze: Bella Stella Winery – White Muscadine, 2015
White Wines: Blends
▪ Gold: Blue Ostrich Winery & Vineyard – Vin Blanc, 2015
▪ Silver: Llano Estacado Winery – Signature White, 2015
▪ Bronze: Bingham Family Vineyards, Cloudburst, 2014
▪ Gold: Silver Dollar Winery – IM’Peached, 2014
▪ Silver: Chisholm Trail Winery – Bad Ass Blush, NV
▪ Bronze: Bella Stella – Muscadine Medley, 2015
Red Wines: Light
▪ Gold: Landon Winery – Pinot Noir, 2015
▪ Silver: Messina Hof Winery & Resort – Protégé Primativo, 2015
▪ Bronze: Pillar Bluff Vineyards – Tempranillo Rose, 2014
Red Wines: Medium
▪ Gold: Messina Hof Winery & Resort – Private Reserve Petite Verdot, 2015
▪ Silver: Blue Ostrich Winery & Vineyard – Sangiovese, 2015
▪ Bronze: Texas Hills Vineyard – Sangiovese, 2012
Red Wines: Bold
▪ Gold: Texas Hills Vineyard – Kick Butt Cab, 2012
▪ Silver: Bingham Family Vineyards – Dirt Farmer
▪ Bronze: Landon Winery – Tempranillo, 2014
Red Wines: Sweet
▪ Gold: Homestead Winery – Chocolate Rose, NV
▪ Silver: Chisholm Trail Winery – Ghost Rider, 2015
▪ Bronze: Bella Stella Winery – Red Muscadine, 2015
Red Wines: Blends
▪ Gold: Blue Ostrich Winery & Vineyard – Talon, 2014
▪ Silver: Llano Estacado Winery – Viviano, 2012
▪ Bronze: Enoch’s Stomp – All Y’all, NV
Marty Sabota: 817-390-7367