Get your (grape) stomp on at Port Angeles winery on Saturday
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Olympic Cellars
The lineup of Lucys — Lucille Ball look-alikes — has been one of the activities at the Olympic Cellars Grape Stomp. The stomp and harvest party return to the Port Angeles winery Saturday.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Earlier this century, there were seven stomps. People came from miles around to clamber barefoot into barrels and commune with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at Olympic Cellars, the all-woman-owned winery just east of town.

This annual Grape Stomp, a harvest party co-hosted by Olympic's Kathy Charlton, was inspired by an “I Love Lucy” episode first on television back in 1956.

The show, with its footage of Lucille Ball stomping grapes in an Italian peasant costume, inspired Charlton but good.

She and Olympic Cellars' crew put on a Grape Stomp from 2003 through 2009 but then took a break to pour their energies into other winery activities.

Stomp back Saturday

But this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., the party is back: stomping for all ages, a harvest costume contest, prizes, awards and, as the finale, an outdoor concert by the classic-rock band Fat Chance.

Party-goers ages 15 and younger get in free, while tickets for older teens and adults are $13 in advance at www.OlympicCellars.com and $15 Saturday at the winery, 255410 U.S. Highway 101. Proceeds will benefit The Girlfriend Factor (www.GirlfriendFactor.org), a nonprofit group supporting women, and the Feiro Marine Life Center of Port Angeles.

“There's nothing more fun than squishing your feet in those grapes,” Charlton declared.

“This time, we're doing it a little bit differently: The first hour is an opportunity for parents and kids to stomp; it won't be a competition” and instead just a chance for children and their folks to stomp together.

Then comes the stomping-and-swamping contest for adults and youths ages 16 and older. The first rounds start at 2 p.m., and the Grand Stomp-Off follows at 3:30 p.m.

“People take this very seriously,” Charlton said.

Molly Rivard, co-owner of Olympic Cellars, emphasized another matter: “We do not make wine out of these grapes,” she said.

People have asked about that.

The grapes, which come from Pasco's Sagemoor Vineyards, are headed for compost, Rivard said.

“If you don't want to be the one stomping, it's fun to watch,” she added, as “you see a whole competitive nature come out, sometimes in people you'd never expect” to harbor it.

Prizes — Charlton's been shopping for an array of whimsical “I Love Lucy” goodies — are bestowed on the top stompers and harvest costume contest winners.

May be the last

This is likely to be the winery's final Grape Stomp, Charlton said.

As it's harvest time, she will hold a ceremonial passing of the shovel to the other Olympic Cellars women: co-owner Lisa Martin, Rivard and Kristi Knowles.

Charlton is stepping back from the winery's daily operations to help her husband, Ralph, run Target Focus Training, a self-defense training company.

In a “best of” series featuring some of the bands who've played the winery in recent years, she booked seven outdoor concerts in July and August to lead up to this Saturday's last hurrah.

“Kathy is our hostess with the mostest,” Rivard said.

Fat Chance will set up on the patio to play from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.. Together 31 years, the band does a set list from Rolling Stones to Johnny Cash to Tom Petty.

“Even if you don't want to go to the Grape Stomp — if you've got to get your lawn mowed or your pears canned — come to the concert,” Rivard added.

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Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 12. 2013 10:49PM
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