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Finding Minnesota: Grape Stomp At Carlos Creek Winery

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (WCCO) — The socks are coming off and the juices will be flowing this weekend at Carlos Creek Winery.

The annual Grape Stomp gives visitors a chance to see and feel how wine was made the old-fashioned way, starting with a pair of bare feet.

Centuries ago, stomping was considered the best way to separate the juice from the grape. But now it’s just for laughs — the kind of laughs that Lucille Ball delivered in one of her most memorable episodes.

On Sept. 14 at the Grape Stomp, Minnesota performers Tina and Lena will reenact the famous scene in which Lucy wrestles an Italian woman in a vat of grapes.

Others from the crowd will compete for prizes, with more than five tons of grapes on hand to stomp.

The juice they force out won’t be used for drinking, and the stomping grapes won’t be from nearby fields.

Carlos Creek’s president, Tami Bredeson, said Minnesota grapes require so much extra care and are in such short supply, it’s much less expensive to ship in west coast grapes for an event in which they’ll essentially go to waste.

“We’re going to stomp on those cheap California grapes,” Bredeson said.

Bredeson and her husband, Kim, bought Carlos Creek Winery five years ago, making a complete career change. He was a wood carver; she was a marketing director for a bank.

“We work more than we ever have in our lives probably,” Kim Bredeson said, “but we enjoy it so it’s not work then.”

Their winery is up to 75,000 bottles a year now.

They produce a Marquette blend that’s similar to pinot noir. At first, they aged it for one year, but they thought it seemed too heavy so they decided to give it a second year.

“And that’s when we started getting all the gold medals with Marquette,” Tami Bredeson said, “is when we put that extra year of oak on it.”

Their best sellers, though, are from the Minnesota Nice line – labeled with cartoon moose characters named Ole and Spike.

There’s Wobegon White, Ya Betcha Blush and Hot Dish Red.

“We think tater tot hot dish is the best pairing (with Hot Dish Red),” Tami Bredeson said. “But I would say that the wild rice hot dish is a good second.”

Wobegon White, she said, is a good pairing for walleye.

More than 15,000 visitors are expected at the Grape Stomp festival which goes from September 13 through 15.

It will feature live music, lumberjack shows, helicopter rides and gift cards for the fastest and best-dressed stompers. There are entry fees and admission charges, which are detailed here.

Do you have a Finding Minnesota idea for us? Let us know here.

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