Around the world, vines are veritably dripping with grapes. It's harvest season, and that means it's the best time for you to get a little closer to your Cabernet. Ever wonder how wine is made? Ready to do a little tasting with your friends? Daring enough to try a grape stomp? Visit your local winery to learn by doing.
Winery and Vineyard Tours
During harvest season, many wineries offer special tours of the vineyards and cellars, sometimes with the winemaker personally leading the tour. Meandering through the rows of vines in the fresh fall air, plucking perfect grapes and learning the techniques brought to America centuries ago, you can't help but gain a better understanding of the connection between the vine and the bottle.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find certified organic vineyards and wineries outside of California. Part of that is due to the challenges of producing grapes - and wine - organically. Ask the winemaker about those challenges, and you'll learn even more.
Wine Tasting and Releases
For centuries, winemakers have celebrated the harvest by releasing a new wine. In France and around the world, the Beaujolais Nouveau is possibly the biggest release of the year, with an annual festival to match. While it may not be a Gamay, your local winery will likely have a new wine for you to taste right now. Whether or not they do, now is an excellent time to visit the tasting room. Bring your friends and get a little giddy while you try new flavors and learn about this year's harvest.
Harvest Festivals and Grape Stomps
Agricultural communities often host harvest festivals to celebrate the goods of the season. Vineyards may throw their own harvest bashes, with music, food and lots of fun for grownups and kids. Often these are charity events, so you can warm your blood with wine and your heart by helping out the local community.
The best way to learn about winemaking is to participate in it. By that I mean feeling grapes squish between your toes. An undeniably weird experience, grape stomps take you back to medieval times -- and may or may not stain your feet purple. Don't worry, after two glasses of wine it'll be even funnier.