Grape stomp kicks off wine harvest

Festival goers to the Morgan Creek Grape Stomp dance and listen to the music during the festival Sept. 18. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

HARPERSVILLE — Many Shelby County residents put their toes to work Sept. 18 at the Morgan Creek Vineyard’s annual grape stomp in Harpersville.

Charlie and Mary Brammer, owners of the vineyard, said they expected close to 3,000 guests for the 10th year of their traditional harvesting event.

Guests stood in line for the opportunity to sink their feet into a wooden barrel of ripe gripes, ready for the squashing.

“The grapes feel like eyeballs,” said Robin Rich, of Hoover, after taking a turn in the stomping barrel.

Rich came to the event sporting a polka dot dress, pearls and spray painted red hair for the vineyard’s Lucille Ball look-a-like contest.

Every year, Lucy doubles flock to the event hoping to take home the cash prizes going to the best imitators. Charlie Brammer said he’s received calls from women as far away as Florida and Indiana wanting to travel to the vineyard for the contest.

“Lucy was loved by everyone,” he said.  She was a character and she created a character. Whatever she said was right and wholesome. People loved that.”

Dressed up as Ricky Ricardo and Lucille Ball, Kyle Gowens, Columbiana, and Melissa Sanders, Chelsea, perform during the "I Love Lucy" look-alike competition Sept. 18. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Rich and her friend, Susan Larkin, said they put a lot of thought into their Lucy costumes. Rich dressed in Lucy’s classic housewife garb, while Larkin opted for Lucy’s grape stomping wardrobe.

“It sounded like fun and it’s a great opportunity to be silly,” Rich said.

The event also featured live music, wine tastings and a winery tour. Many waited in line to sample the wines before choosing the perfect bottle.

“Good wine is always worth standing in line for,” said Judy Jenkins from North Shelby. “It’s a good way to spend a fall day.”

Brammer gave tours through the winery throughout the day, explaining how he retired from selling insurance to open the vineyard ten years ago. Brammer said he enjoys talking about wine with the people he makes it for.

“I’m in the wine business but I’m not wine snob,” he said. “Wine is for the everyday people.”

When the Brammers first started hosting the grape stomp, they had 300 guests. Brammer said he’s watched the event grow every year since then.

“The culture is changing here,” he said. “Ten years ago there was a difference in people’s attitude. This generation wasn’t brought up anti-alcohol. This generation will change wine drinking.”

For more information on Morgan Creek Vineyards, visit Morgancreekwinery.com.