CAMBRIA - Sipping wine in the cool, crisp autumn air may seem the epitome of sedate, sophisticated fun.
If you believe that, you've never been to the Cambria Crush at Morgan Creek Vineyards.
Yes, lots of wine sipping takes place on the verandas and grassy knolls of the Vineyards. But then the grape crushing contests begin.
Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney
The Gnome Team waits while Georg Marti weighs their juice output in the Cambria Crush grape stomp on Saturday at the Morgani Creek Vineyards. The Gnomes did’t crush the most juice, but they did win the costume contest in their round.
Teams of three to seven stompers, decked out in colorful costumes, compete to stomp the juice out of tubs of grapes. Grape juice flies as they kick and stomp for two minutes at a time while the crowd cheers on their favorites.
The costumes are colorful and creative. This year one team came dressed as half a dozen Carmen Mirandas, complete with towering fruit headresses. Others were dressed as gnomes, some came as zombies, others as circus performers.
The Cambria Crush holds three rounds of competitive stomping, with prizes for the teams in each round that can squeeze the most juice out of their grapes, and for the best costumes.
In between, entertainment was provided by the Traditional Morris Dancers from the Twin Cities, and by the Rakstar Belly Dancers.
Georg Marti said the festival, held the first weekend in October, has grown in the past 15 years since it started, with a loyal and hardcore group of attendees.
"The crowds may vary with the weather over the years, but our fans are pretty tough," he said. This year's weather was very good, especially considering the forecasts, Marti said.
In addition to the grape stomp, Morgan Creek also featured a special local wine and cheese tasting, pairing the vineyard's wines with cheeses from the St. Peter Food Coop.