Grape Crushing in Napa Valley
Crushing Grapes in Napa Valley
By Margaret Gaby
As the fall weather starts to roll in there are many harvest celebrations happening around the world. October is an especially important month for the picking of delicious grapes for wine-making. Each year vineyards start their harvest.
A well-known winery in Napa Valley, California is the V. Sattui winery. It has won many awards. This year it has won for the second year in a row the 2012 Winery of the Year Award at the California State Fair. People come from all over the country to try their collection of wines, go on a lovely picnic, see the beautiful sights or attend one of their many events. One of the favorites is the grape crush, where you get to actually crush the grapes yourself!
They have a wide selection of red, sparkling, white wines. Some of the best selling varietals are the award-winning red wines including the 2011 Dry Rosato, 2009 Black Sears Vineyard Zinfandel (Howell Mountain) and the 2008 Preston Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. All of these have gotten rave reviews.
How it all Started
The winery recently celebrated its 125th anniversary. V. Sattui was started by Italian immigrant Vittorio Sattui who came to San Francisco with his new bride. He was originally a baker doing wine-making on the side. In 1885 he opened a boarding house and was able to open a wine shop full-time. He soon got a reputation for his wine by selling it to the boarders.
He hand-picked the grapes from his venture of St. Helena in Napa Valley and had them ferried over to San Francisco. His expanding business was moved to the Mission district on Bryant Street. Sattui soon had clients from as far away as Oregon and Washington.
However, the 1920 Prohibition law (that lasted until 1933) prohibited the manufacturing and selling of anything alcoholic. It was because of this law that family business was dormant for sixty years until Sattui’s great-grandson, Dario, after much hard work successfully restored V. Sattui Winery to its former glory.
The Winery Today
Today the Winery has plenty of visitors, some that travel far and wide to come taste some of the delicious wine. There is no need for a reservation. Visitors come to experience the many events that the Napa Valley winery hosts every year. These include, an annual Harvest Ball, trips to Europe (which are already sold out for 2013), a wine cruise, Lobster Fest, and barrel tasting. One of the most fun of the events is the Crushing party which happens during the beginning of October to celebrate the “crushing” or harvest season.
The crushing season is when the winery crushes the grapes in barrels to make the wine. V. Sattui Winery invites visitors to walk through and taste as well as help crush the grapes from the vines. Katherine Kramer, who frequently enjoys visiting the popular destination, attended one of the crush parties.
Katherine, from San Francisco, heard about V. Sattui from her father, who visits Napa Valley every couple of months and usually stops by the winery. About the crush party she says it was really fun. She went with two of closest friends. “We definitely kicked off our heels, jumped into one of the bins full of grapes and did some stomping!”
She claimed that it felt like one of those “bucket list” once in a lifetime” type things. There was delicious food including pizza and barbecue as well as live music. When asked her favorite type of wine she answers the Moscato and the Gamay Rouge.
“You could wander through the winery and taste wines in various stages of production, and see stuff like how they make the corks, the machines where the seal the wines” as well as other things.
Overall, Kramer says it was a great experience and that she says that she would definitely recommend this excellent winery to everyone.
One does not have to attend the Crushing Party (as it can be a bit pricey with tickets reaching $89 per person) to experience the crushing. However, it is advisable to plan and get there early since there is so much going on, and so many wine lovers show up to the crush.
Many people come to sample wines but stay for the food. Dario had decided to include a deli and and Italian Marketplace after seeing all the great food stalls during his time abroad.
Heather from Phoenix, Arizona says, “Holy Cow! We went to taste the wines, which by the way are fantastic. Then we hit their deli. My mouth just started watering thinking about it”. This is similar to the response that the deli offering house gets from most of its guests. Although, this too can be pricey, it is well worth every penny of it.
Many people definitely stop by to go for lunch to sit under the great old oak trees, on the beautiful picnic grounds near flowers fountains, European-inspired village and towers. It’s a great trip for any wine-lover.
V. Sattui still proves to be one of the best attractions in the Napa Region. With its storied history, multiple awards, extravagant foods, excursion packages, picnicking, it is a great trip for the family or just a few friends. Some people have event had their wedding ceremony hosted by the winery. Definitely a world class wine destination.
Visit V. Sattui in the fall for the crush, and any time for a taste of their wines. www.vsattui.com
Margaret Gaby is an English Major at the University of Massachusetts and an editorial assistant at GoNOMAD.com Travel.
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