Amidst the gorgeous winter sunshine and picturesque slopes of the very quaint Igatpuri, was organized a stomp, which will be long remembered.

Mumbai Nashik expressway was the route we drove on foggy Saturday morning. Straight ahead, in the far distance, we headed straight to the grape stomping festival at Igatpuri. Bustling with live entertainment, gourmet spread across its portico and lawns, wine tasting, vineyard tour, foot spa and grape stomping!

Grape-stomping is known as ‘pigeage’ in the romance language of France. It was a conventional method of maceration used in winemaking. Rather than using a wine press or other mechanized methods, grapes were crushed by foot in vats to release their juices and begin fermentation. This is a fun-activity organized by many wineries all around the world, planned around harvest. One such mega event was organized by Grover Zampa, on Saturday and it was a worthy drive from Mumbai. The estate encompasses a 500 acre vineyard, located at Sanjegaon, Igatpuri, near Nashik-the wine capital of India, offering some spectacular views of the adjoining slopes.

A crisp welcome with their winning, Zampa Chêne Grand Reserve, had pleasing notes of blackberry and plums, with a bouquet balance of spice. It is their signature blend of Tempranillo, a full bodied Spanish black varietal and Syrah noted for its medium to high notes of tannins and its peppery flavours. It is rightly, so, the most expensive and graceful Indian wine.

As grape harvests are coming in around February, many wineries host grape stomping events that coincide with tastings, winery tours and celebrations, giving chefs, wine connoisseurs, media, beverage managers , importers and the likes a chance for interacting and sharing their views. Lot of conversations, laughters, hugs and air kisses finally lead us to a large stomping vat.

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The ripe and hued bunches of the fruiting berry were carefully plucked, from their terraced slopes and upturned, crate after crate, into a large wooden vat. An announcement goes viral all across the estate, ‘Okay, time to jump in!’ Honestly, at first, only the youngster jumped in the rickle of grapes. There were plenty of grown-up folks who’d seen Lucille Ball stomping grapes in black and white a long time ago. Finally they jumped in too. We were hesitant for some time but couldn’t resist longer. It took a lot of prodding from the organizers to get us in the stomping vat but took them even more, to get us out, later. As we kicked our shoes, rolled up denims and stepped in, we got into a rhythm of smashing the grapes beneath our feet and moving around the barrel to seek out areas that needed attention. I could have done it all day.

We stepped out of the vat only to be taken on a vineyard tour by Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO, Grover Zampa Vineyards, who also took us through the deciduous woody vines explained the nuances of viticulture. Squishing grapes from its dense bloomy clusters enlivened a lot of my childhood memories.

Karishma Grover, third generation Grover and proficient winemaker herself, revisited their crisp wines in the cellar at the vineyards, with us, explaining notes, bouquets and balances of their signature blends.

Wine tasting, good food, great company, a breezy-sunny day and bubbly conversations.What’s not to love?

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Originally posted in Pioneerchef.com