Behind the Scenes with Family Winery Teams, Vineyard Managers & Grape Stomp Planners
NEWS RELEASE September 18, 2019 Murphys, CA - On Saturday, October 5th over 5000 people will attend the 26th Annual Calaveras Grape Stomp at Murphys Community Park in Murphys, CA where 120 teams from near and far will compete in the grape stomp competition. This annual event produced by the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance and local volunteers, has grown to be California’s Oldest and Largest Grape Stomp Competition.
The event takes place from 9:00-5:00 and includes Live Entertainment, a Costume Contest, Kids Activities, a Gold Rush Street Faire with over 100 vendors as well as Silent and Live Auctions supporting community organizations and providing high school scholarships. Visitors to Calaveras Wine Country can find information about Harvest and Grape Stomp Weekend Celebrations here: https://www.calaveraswines.org/grapestomp-wine-weekend
As the town is abuzz preparing for this community event, vineyard managers and winemaking families are busy tending to the grape harvest. Calaveras County is now home to over 50 vineyard sites and 32 tasting rooms stretching between historic downtown Murphys to vineyard properties throughout Calaveras County. Winemaking in Calaveras County began in the early years of the Gold Rush, with the first 1,000 vines of Mission Grapes planted at the lower Calaveras River in 1851. Visitors to the Calaveras wine region won’t find corporate wineries but instead those that are small, family-owned and operated. The largest winery in Calaveras County is Ironstone Vineyards, owned by the Kautz family, and includes a heritage museum, wine caves and amphitheater. Local wine industry legends include the late Bardon Stevenot, Chuck Hovey and Dr. Ian Renner. Get behind the scenes with some of the Sierra Foothills shining stars in this harvest spotlight.....
Kate Boyle MacDonald - Owner, Grape Grower & Winemaker, Boyle MacDonald Wines, Murphys and NapaValley, CA
Kate has the great fortune to own and farm vineyards in the Sierra Foothills and Napa Valley wine regions. While farming is probably the most challenging part of the job, the personal control over the fruit makes it worth the work. She prepares for harvest by racking all of the previous vintage’s wines out of barrel, homogenizing lots and creating blends, then racking back to barrel, a.k.a. “putting the wines to bed”. Next she orders all fermentation needs, sanitizes all of the equipment, and stocks the fridge with beer in anticipation of the fruit’s arrival.
Perhaps the hardest part of preparing for harvest is netting the Napa vineyard. The tight spacing of vines and steep grade is such that no machinery can go into the rows. Everything is done by hand. If you’ve ever tried to work with nets in any capacity, you can imagine that they get caught on every single possible thing available. It’s a necessary evil as the trees surrounding the vineyard are home to birds that are capable of wiping out the entire crop.
Along with her husband Craig, their two teenage children, and a few friends, Kate harvests the fruit well before sunrise, as she wants the fruit as cold as possible when it arrives at the winery. All of the Napa fruit is trailered to Ayrael Vieux Winery just outside of Murphys where Kate, Craig and Ayrael Vieux owners Bob and Linda (and sometimes the reluctant MacDonald children) process the fruit. Kate shares,“I personally tend to every stage of the winemaking process, from farming to harvest to fermentation to bottling. Harvest is the most grueling, exhausting, exciting and satisfying part of winemaking. A year’s worth of farming finally comes to fruition…literally!”
Kate is anxious for harvest to start, but the incredible rains and later bud break this year are making her wait a few extra weeks before she gets her hands sticky. The Sangiovese Bianco, a unique white wine made from red Sangiovese grapes grown at Ayrael Vieux Winery, Douglas Flat area of Calaveras County, will likely be the first juice to hit the winery. “September and October are the