Traditional recipes

Grape Stomping 101

Grape Stomping 101

Crushing myths and traditions, then and now

Grape stomping is a custom associated with the harvest, going back to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine.

Dionysus’ life is symbolic of the vine’s life cycle. As legend goes, Dionysus was dismembered by Titans and returned to life, signifying vine pruning at season’s end, dormancy to rejuvenate in winter and rebirth in spring.

Festivals honoring Dionysus still exist, with pigeage (French for grape stomping) central to those rituals. Stomping is symbolic of dismembering vines (just as the Titans did to Dionysus) by crushing grapes (breaking the flesh) and releasing the juices.

Renewed interest in grape stomping came with the 1956 I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel stomped grapes in Italy, with comedic consequences.

Grape stomping is rarely practiced today, though many wineries sponsor grape stomping festivals, with proceeds often donated to charity (the juice is either discarded or used as fertilizer).

That said, Portugal still uses stomped grapes in some port wines. And the practice also continues in a few small wineries in Spain and in Cinque Terre, Italy.

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Grape Harvest in the Douro Valley

The Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world and offers such beauty that it is able to amaze even the most demanding and hard to impress visitors. Its stunning landscapes are mesmerizing throughout the entire year, but during the harvest season, it becomes alive and is almost like an enchanted valley.


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The harvest is one of the oldest wine activities in Portugal and certainly one of the most genuine and traditional ones. The vineyards, that spend most of the year empty, come alive: full of grapes ready to be harvested, workers ready to pick and anticipation for the stomping of the grapes, a process that will transform the grapes into great Port and Douro wines. During this season, the aroma of graphs spreads through the valley, dazzling colors take over the landscape and the Douro seethes. The harvest season has arrived.


The Douro Valley harvest season is a cheerful time and you can feel it in the atmosphere, after all, the Wineries/Quintas finally get to collect the result of a long year of work and waiting. Despite the good mood, the harvest process involves a lot of long hours to reach the final result: the wines. There is no fixed date for the Douro harvest season to start but it usually happens in the second half of September, it depends on the weather conditions throughout the year and how the vineyards have reacted to it. There are many activities available only during this season. You can participate in the harvest with the locals, help to produce wine from the grapes by stomping away, and some wineries even allow you to take home with you the “fruits” of your labor. Can you imagine sharing a bottle of wine you produced with your friends?

What is so special about the Douro Harvest Season?

As you know, it all starts with the picking of the grapes by hand. Keep in mind that there aren’t any machines helping in this part, it is all manual work. Grapes are literally hand-picked, with the help of scissors, of course, and the boxes are carried by workers on their back.

credits: Quinta do Pôpa

The grapes are then taken and poured into large stone tanks/lagares and stomped by a group of workers to squash them and squeeze the liquid out from the skin. This happens to the sound of someone marking the rhythm with a song, so workers while embracing each other, can stomp in a synchronized and more effective way. After this, the pulp of the grapes are left to ferment and what happens next is kind of a secret because each winery has its own “recipe” to produce their unique wines.


How can you experience the harvest season?

There are a number of wineries with special harvest programs. Two of the best wineries in the Douro region are Quinta do Popa and Quinta das Carvalhas, which we mention on our One Day Trip To Douro article, and both offer harvest experiences to visitors. These experiences usually include a visit to the farm, including the vineyards and wine production facilities, grape picking, lunch, with plenty of traditional gastronomy and local wines, grape stomping, and wine tasting, to end a great day in the best possible way. Here’s a sample of a harvest experience our team enjoyed during the last Douro harvest season.

This is definitely one of the best day trips to the Douro you can plan if you’re visiting Porto or any other surrounding region!

Kalyra Winery

1) Masks are required at all times except when you are seated at your table.

Tuesday-Friday 12-5pm
Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm
Tastings are available each day, last pour at 4:30pm daily

3) Reservations are required. We have limited space to accommodate customers, so it's best for you, and for us, to know ahead of time that you will be visiting. You can call or email us to make a reservation.

4) We will only hold your table for 15 minutes past your reservation time if you do not arrive, the table will be given to the next waiting party.

5) We will mostly be utilizing our front porch and side lawn, with tables spread 6 feet apart. If you are bringing children, we please ask that they be supervised at all times and stay at your group's designated area to maintain proper social distancing and safety protocols for our staff and other patrons.

6) Tastings will be a little different. There will be four 'flight' options for you to choose from each flight will have 3 wines that will be served in 3 separate glasses. The flight will be brought to you all at once (much like a restaurant). Members will still receive complimentary flights, 1 per person, up to 4 people. You can also purchase a glass of wine for $5 or buy a bottle.

7) Hand sanitizer will be available and our staff will be adhering to cleaning/disinfecting protocols as outlined by the CDC.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us!

We appreciate your patience as we go into uncharted territory as our staff adjusts to the new normal. We still want you to have the 'Kalyra experience' even though it will be a little different. Thank you for your continuous support and we look forward to seeing you at the winery!

Winemaking 101

All wine lovers dream of fleeing the big city, buying a few acres, planting some grapes, and living out the rest of their lazy days swirling and sipping under the sun.

Keep dreaming. Meanwhile, there’s Gallaghers’ Where-U-Brew, just 15 miles away from Seattle in Edmonds. A popular beer- and winemaking facility, Gallaghers’ plays host to home crafters of all sorts: from fun-loving first-timers to semipros customizing their own recipes to, most recently, a growing number of root beer fans.

When Dennis Gallagher and his wife, Sandy, opened Gallaghers’ in 1995, the operation mostly drew beer buffs interested in demystifying the microbrewery process but unwilling to invest in the equipment needed to seriously hone their hobby.

Soon, folks were popping in for one of six pints on tap in the tasting room, and brides-to-be came calling to create their own wedding-day ales. Yet only occasionally would the Gallaghers get customers curious about the crush.

Today, Gallaghers’ is one of the only DIY winemaking facilities this side of the Cascades. Amateur vintners make an average of 100 lots of wine a month and can choose from about 25 kinds of grapes ― from California Cab to Sangiovese from Chianti.

My friends and I sure drink enough wine. One rainy evening over a bottle of red, we think, Why not try making it?

Gallaghers’ entrance area is crowded with wine kits, some bearing gold or silver stamps indicating the award-winning status of the grapes inside. Australian Shiraz, California Chardonnay, Italian Pinot Grigio, and everything in between.

We are soon in a quandary. Four people agreeing on one grape, we realize, will not be easy. It’s a cold, wintry day, so we decide to go with a big red. Nick likes Cabs, but Todd prefers Merlots. Juliette and I shrug, overwhelmed by so many choices.

Dennis Gallagher grins. “If you choose a white grape,” he offers, “it might be ready to drink by summer.” Apparently, big red wines can take as long as three years. It’s okay, we’re down with delayed gratification.

Dennis laughs and turns to help a group that are, uh, a bit further along in the process. They’re already bottling.

The air is dense with a not unpleasant aroma of steamy hops and fermenting grapes. Because of the tasting room, Gallaghers’ doesn’t allow children on the premises (not even to make root beer). Still, the place has a family feel, with nearly equal numbers of men and women working like mad scientists, bent over vats of liquids.

There’s lots of laughter, much of it led by Dennis, who strolls around the room like a lab professor. “The winemaking kits have become so much more sophisticated it’s hard to screw it up, ” Dennis assures us. “It’s not like we’re growing and stomping grapes here, but you really can make an outstanding wine.”

That’s what we’re counting on. We go for broke and pick the 2004 Merlot from Napa’s Stags Leap District. Can’t hurt to start with the good stuff ― even though Dennis warns us it will require a good year in the basement before the first bottle is drinkable, and another one to two years before the case is truly aged to perfection.

Undeterred, we forge ahead to the next step: getting our fermentation going. Sounds technical, but surprisingly (thanks to Gallaghers’ handy-dandy kits), it’s a relatively easy process that takes just 20 minutes under the supervision of an experienced employee. First, we pour the crushed grapes into a large, sturdy white bucket. Next, we add individual packets of yeast and mysterious compounds such as bentonite (a claylike dirt that helps settle the wine), plus a brilliant addition for the amateur: oak chips, which emulate the flavor that comes from aging in French oak barrels. (Far cheaper too.)

We leave the rest of the fermentation process for the staff to keep an eye on (about a week), and then let our wine settle for another six weeks in a back room at Gallaghers’ before we return for the bottling. This is the fun part, as we quaff Gallaghers’ ale and take turns sitting around an old-fashioned corking machine, siphoning wine into bottles and sealing them one by one.

And then, we cart our case home ― where it still sits a year later, tucked away in a cool spot in the back of my closet. As Dennis predicted, delayed gratification isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

In the end, though, we paid a little more than $200 for 28 bottles of our very own “Reggae Red” (named after Todd’s beloved mutt, and emblazoned with an image of his cute, cock-eared face). Averaging less than $7.50 per bottle, it’s quite a steal. Whether it tastes any good remains to be seen, of course. Regardless, it’s the bragging rights to our custom wine that we really look forward to ― in 2009.


1. Start young
Choosing a long-aging wine like a big Cabernet is a buzz kill, says Dennis Gallagher, because the payoff is years away. “I don’t recommend long-aging wines to first-time winemakers. You want to enjoy your first wine as soon as possible.”

2. Stay grounded
Even Mouton Rothschild probably botched a few early batches, so don’t expect a 99-pointer and a call from Robert Parker on your first try. Choose an easy-to-craft grape, such as a white that doesn’t need to age, and have fun tinkering with the process for each subsequent batch.

3. Make space
You need a cool, dark storage spot to keep your wine sound while you wait. A constant temperature ― whether on the low or high end of 55° to 65° ― is key, as fluctuations make for dodgy flavor. Bottles should be kept out of sunlight and lie undisturbed on their side throughout the aging process a low cupboard or cool closet works fine if you don’t have a basement.

4. Relax …
“This environment isn’t conducive with stress,” Dennis says, “so don’t bring any.” He and his team supervise all the winemaking. “There’s no reason to worry about wine,” he says. “Just learn to enjoy it and drink up.”

5. Give a gift
The holidays are fast approaching, and Gallaghers’ ice wines and ports take only six weeks to age.


The shop offers more than two dozen juices for crafting DIY wines. To help you understand the qualities of the grapes, here are a few facts behind some of the couple’s favorite and more popular fruit.

Cabernet Sauvignon
This big, tannic red grape should usually age for several years to soften and bring out its complex, rich flavors.

America’s most popular white grape ranges in taste from apple to mushrooms to vanilla to butterscotch. It usually takes only six months to age.

Corvina Classico di Veneto
The couple’s all-time favorite, this intense ruby red wine made from a northern Italian grape, Corvina, has gripping red tannins, a cherry aroma, and beautiful color. It needs to sit for at least a year, preferably two or three.

Available from many regions around the world, this medium- to full-bodied red wine tastes like plums, black currants, chocolate, or leather, and can be drunk after a year of aging.

Pale in color with aromas of honey, apples, citrus, peaches, and petrol, this refreshingly crisp white wine can age in as little as six months.

INFO: Gallaghers’ Where-U-Brew (closed Sun-Mon winemaking kits from $135, bottles $1 each or BYO 120 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds 425/776-4209)

Have a Taste of the Grape in Santa Ynez Valley

“Kick off your shoes, roll up your jeans and get ready for some icky, sticky, good clean fun!” That’s the invitation of Rosalie and Gene Hallock to their sixth annual Great Grape Stomp.

The grape harvest has begun in the Southland’s most scenic and notable wine region, the Santa Ynez Valley, and you’re welcome to join the celebrations.

Hallock and his wife will host their grape stomp at Ballard Canyon Winery on three successive Saturdays--Oct. 3, 10 and 17. Or head to Brander Vineyards next Sunday for its harvest festival.

Several of the valley’s other wineries will host open houses Oct. 25. At some there will be free music, snacks and special tastings.

Even if you can’t attend these events, many of the wineries are open daily for public tastings and tours. But try to visit during fall harvest time to enjoy the extra activity and excitement as the grapes are picked, crushed and pressed.

You can get a wine-touring map at most valley wineries or write for one in advance of your trip to the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Assn., P.O. Box Wine, Los Olivos, Calif. 93441.

In the Santa Ynez Valley, 9 of the association’s 22 wineries are open to the public, usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here is a tour to sample some of their vintages and enjoy an autumn outing in the countryside:

Head north from Los Angeles on U.S. 101 to Buellton and exit east into the valley on California 246. After you pass through the Danish tourist town of Solvang, turn right on Refugio Road and drive about 3/4 mile to look for the grapevines that mark the area’s first commercial vineyards.

A lane leads through them to the pioneer Santa Ynez Valley Winery, established 11 years ago in a former dairy. A tasting room on the hilltop hides the old barn, but you’ll learn more about the winery’s history and its award-winning wines during an informal tour and tasting. Visitors can picnic on the porch.

A Sunday afternoon benefit concert on Oct. 18 will feature the Royal Garden Swing Band from Cuesta College call the Santa Ynez Valley Winery for details: (805) 688-8381.

Continue east on California 246 and turn right into the Gainey Vineyard just before the junction with California 154. Fifty-four acres of grapes surround an impressive Spanish-style winery the Gainey family opened on their large ranch three years ago.

Organized tours begin at half past the hour from 1O:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m, with tastings every 15 minutes. The winery closes at 5 p.m. Wild boar, venison, pates, cheeses, live music and an art exhibit will be Gainey’s special treats during the Oct. 25 open house.

Join California 154 and head northeast toward Los Olivos. At the Roblar Avenue crossroads, drive right and then immediately left on Refugio Road. Follow the signs to Brander Vineyard. Owner and wine-maker Fred Brander will host a harvest party next Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., beginning with a blessing of the grapes by a padre from Old Mission Santa Ines.

You can join in grape harvesting and crushing in an old press, Bavarian music and dancing, an Argentine-style barbecue, cooking demonstrations and wine tasting. Tickets are $27.50 at the door. For information, call (805) 688-2455.

On other days, Brander Vineyard welcomes visitors for informal tours and tastings from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday to 4 p.m.).

Following California 154 to Los Olivos, turn left on Grand Avenue, where Austin Cellars has its tasting room in the tiny town at No. 2923 (open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Continue south to join Alamo Pintado Road through Ballard to J. Carey Cellars.

Started by the Carey family in a rustic red barn, the small winery was sold this year to the valley’s best-known vintner family, the Firestones. Kate Firestone is in charge of the 25-acre vineyard, while her husband, Brooks Firestone, continues to run his larger namesake winery a few miles north.

The former wine-maker’s home has been redecorated as a tasting room, and you can picnic overlooking the grapevines. The bucolic setting will be the location of a TV series to be filmed at the Carey winery this fall.

More remote and almost hidden in the hills is a major Santa Ynez Valley wine producer, Zaca Mesa Winery. Return to California 154 and go west, then turn right on Foxen Canyon Road to join Zaca Station Road and continue north to the winery.

Zaca Mesa, which is just introducing newly designed labels on its bottles, makes 10 varietals and annually ships 50,000 cases of wine nationwide. You can sample Chardonnay and other vintages daily and join a tour on weekends on the half hour.

Formal tours and tastings are offered every day at the Firestone Vineyard, the valley’s other large winery that’s also on Zaca Station Road (go back south about a mile beyond the Foxen Canyon Road junction).

A benefit event planned for the harvest open house on Oct. 25 is a recital by renowned saxophonist Ken Radnofsky. It costs $15, including a catered lunch, with proceeds going to the valley’s Arts Outreach program. For reservations, call (805) 688-9533.

Continue south to U.S. 101 and take the first turnoff to return to California 154 toward Los Olivos. Look right for Ballard Canyon Road and follow the twisting two-lane route to roadside wine barrels that mark the Ballard Canyon Winery.

Grape stomping is just one of the events on the first three Saturdays in October, when the winery’s harvest fest takes place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wine tasting, bands, dancing, chef demonstrations and a steak barbecue are part of the fun.

There will be room for 500 or so celebrants at each event. Tickets cost $40 per person (minimum age 21) and paid reservations are required. For information, call (805) 688-7585. On other days Ballard Canyon Winery opens at 11 a.m. for self-guided tours and tastings on the veranda. Picnic goodies are available.

Continue south on Ballard Canyon Road to rejoin California 246 and U.S. 101 back to Los Angeles. For information about accommodations in the area, phone the Solvang Visitors Bureau, (805) 688-1981.

Round trip from Los Angeles for a grape time in the Santa Ynez Valley is 270 miles.

Table vs. Wine
Table grapes are those that you can eat fresh or bake, while wine grapes are meant for fermenting into wine. Did you know that 71% of the grapes grown in the world are for the production of wine?

Seeded vs. Seedless
Seedless grapes are grown by a process called cloning. Instead of planting a seed and getting a new grape plant, a piece of an existing grape plant is planted. This existing grape plant has a mutation causing it not to have seeds, so a piece of that plant is cut off, planted, and an identical seedless grape plant springs to life! While seedless grapes are convenient and tasty, grapes with seeds are a bit healthier, as the seeds are rich in healthy fats (assuming you eat the seeds of course!)

North American vs. European

  • North American grapes (Vitis labrusca): these have a “slip skin” (a skin that comes off easier) and can grow in cooler temperatures. North American grapes have a more grapey flavor.
  • European grapes (Vitis vinifera): these have a tight skin and need higher heat to grow. European grapes are generally sweeter and better for making wine.

Winemaking From Start to Finish (Told in Pictures)

The craft of winemaking has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to leave city life for the country. For many, having a winery is a life-long dream.

On the surface, winemaking looks simple enough: you gather grapes, throw them in a tank, and then wait. After some time has passed, “voila!” You have wine.

But what is winemaking really like?

In truth, winemaking is an arduous process of observations, sanitization, and practices all for the purpose of shepherding billions of microbes through the bewildering process of fermentation.

So, let’s walk through the actual process of winemaking from start to finish.

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No matter your wine knowledge, we've got the accessories to improve your wine journey.

Winemaking From Start to Finish

There is no single recipe for making wine. That said, there are a lot of well-known processes and techniques that produce the major styles of wine.

It all starts with picking grapes.

The crew picks Cabernet Sauvignon in Sonoma, California in the fall.

Unlike avocados or bananas, grapes don’t ripen once they’re picked. So, they’ve got to be picked just at the right moment.

During the harvest season, this means “all hands on deck.” Harvest jobs are plentiful but they are hard work!

  • Some grapes are picked slightly less ripe to produce wines with higher acidity (usually white and sparkling wines).
  • Some grapes are picked slightly more ripe to produce wines with higher sweetness concentration (such as late-harvest dessert wines).
  • Sometimes the weather does not cooperate and fails to ripen grapes properly! (This is why some vintages taste better than others.)

After the grapes are picked, they’re delivered to the winery.

Wineries have specialized tools for handling grapes at the winery.

The winery’s first step is to process the grapes. Wine grapes are never washed. (It would ruin the fruit-quality concentration!) So instead, they are sorted, squeezed, and prodded into submission.

Many types of red wine grapes (like Cabernet Sauvignon) are put on sorting tables to remove “MOG” (materials other than grapes).

Red wine grapes with thinner skins and soft tannins (such as Pinot Noir) are often fermented with their stems to add tannin and phenolics.

Thicker-skinned grapes (like Monastrell) are often destemmed to reduce bitter phenolics and harsh tannins.

White wines are typically not fermented with their skins and seeds attached. Most white wine grapes go directly into a pneumatic wine press which gently squeezes the grapes with an elastic membrane. This is how it works:

The stuff leftover after squeezing the grapes is called pomace. Grape pomace has many potential uses beyond the winery, including cosmetics and food products.

Some white wines soak with the skins and seeds for a short period of time. This adds phenolics (like tannin) but overall, it increases the richness of white wines. (BTW, this is how orange wine is made!)

Juice and grape must is now transferred to fermentation vessels.

There are many different kinds of fermentation tanks. The three most popular types are wood, stainless steel, and concrete. Each has their own unique traits that affect how the wine ferments.

Next comes the most important part: the yeast.

Many winemakers opt to use commercial yeasts to better control the outcome of the fermentation.

Other winemakers develop their own local yeast strains or let nature take its course and allow “wild” yeasts ferment the wine naturally.

Either way, here’s essentially how it works:

Alcohol producing yeast, Saccharomyces consume grape sugars (the white ball) and produce ethanol.

Yeast consumes the sugar in the grape must and then poops out ethanol.

Grape must sweetness is measured in Brix and very basically, 1 Brix results in 0.6% of alcohol by volume.

For example, if you pick grapes at 24º Brix, you’ll get a wine with 14.5% alcohol by volume. (The actual concept is a bit more complicated, but this dirty fast version works!)

Red wines ferment a bit hotter than whites, usually between 80º – 90º F (27º – 32º C). Some winemakers allow fermentations to rise even higher to tweak the flavor.

White wines, on the other hand, need to preserve the delicate floral and fruit aromas, so they’re often fermented a lot cooler, around 50º F (10º C) and up.

This is especially true for the aromatic wine varieties (those with high terpene content), such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Muscat Blanc, and Torrontés.

While the wine is fermenting, carbon dioxide is released, which causes grape seeds and skins to rise to the surface.

Some winemakers control this by punching down the “cap” three times a day.

Other winemakers prefer to use “pump overs,” where juice from the bottom is gently poured over the top of the skins and seeds.

The choice of “punch down” vs “pump over” really depends on the type of wine grape and desired taste profile. Generally speaking, lighter wines use punch downs and bolder wines use pump overs. But, as with all things wine, exceptions abound!

When the fermentation is done, it’s time to rack the wine out of the fermentation vessel.

The juice that runs free (without being pressed) is generally considered the purest, highest quality wine. It’s called “free run” wine and is kind of like the “extra virgin” wine.

The rest of the wine is “press wine” and is generally slightly more rustic, with harsher-tasting phenolics.

Press wine is typically blended back into the free run wine. (Remember: the less waste, the better!)

Finally, the wine moves into what the French call “élevage.” Élevage is like a fancy way of saying, “waiting around.”

That said, a lot happens in the winery while we wait for wine to cure into something great.

Wines go into barrels, bottles, or storage tanks. Some wines will wait for five years before being released others, just a few weeks.

During this time, wines are racked, tested, tasted, stirred (lees stirring), and often blended together to create a final wine.

Also, most red wines (and some white wines – like Chardonnay) go through Malolactic Fermentation (MLF), which is where microbes eat sour acids and produce softer, more buttery acids.

So, next time you look at a bottle, think of all the work that went into making it.

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No matter your wine knowledge, we've got the accessories to improve your wine journey.

Sometimes reinventing the classic isn’t worth it, especially with a perfect pairing like this one-dish muffin breakfast.

Pair these low-carb zucchini fritters with bacon, sausage, or even smoked salmon for a ket0-friendly breakfast that won’t scramble your eggs or your morning schedule.

How to make sorbet with green grapes

Put all of your past dessert making experience and assumptions aside, and get ready for the easiest recipe you’ll ever make. It’s (roughly) one million times less complicated than making ice cream, and it only requires two steps.

After freezing the grapes, this recipe will take less than 5 minutes to make. It’ll be ready to enjoy faster than you can say “grape sorbet” 10 times fast!

Step 1: Freeze the grapes
Remove the grapes from the stems and arrange them on a plate or baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze until they’re solid, which should take at least 4 hours. Don’t forget to wash them first!

Step 2: Blend the ingredients
In a food processor, puree the frozen grapes, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed. Add the remaining ingredients, and continue to puree until everything is smooth. Once everything is blended, it’s ready to enjoy!

  • The 2020 Purple Foot Festival has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to bringing the festival back in 2021!

Our 2019 Purple Foot Festival was a super success! Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate harvest season, our vendors and generous sponsors. As Rochester's Winery and the gateway winery to the Finger Lakes, we so appreciate your support. Plans have already begun for the 2020 Purple Foot, with our signature grape stomp, lots of great activities - fun for the whole family.

Watch the video: Winemaking 101 (December 2021).