Guts of muscadine grapes oozed between my toes as a I did my part to squish 2,000 pounds of grapes during Henscratch Farm’s 11th Annual Grape Stomp on Aug. 13, 2011. Yes, I admit to channeling a little bit of Lucy with each step I took in the metal bin. Stomping grapes would bring out the comedian in anyone.
Located in Lake Placid, Florida, about a 90-minute drive northeast from my Port Charlotte home, Henscratch Farms offers a winery and country store and each year, the Grape Stomp with fruit grown on site.
Henscratch, What a Fun Name!
Admittedly, I fell in love with Henscratch Farm’s name about two years ago when I heard about the event but it wasn’t until this year when I was able to attend. “Henscratch.” What an awesome name. Visions of chickens running around a vineyard flooded my mind and driving up during my first visit, the farm did not disappoint.
Chickens ran around the farm and visitors could feed the birds cereal distributed from the country store. Roosters crowed while hens pecked. I recognized different varieties of chickens including Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds. Apparently, some species of chickens eat bugs and other pests that could cause damage to farm crops and their presence can minimize the use of pesticides.
Squish, Squish. Stomping Grapes to Make Wine
Concerned about toe jam or other bits of feet that may have entered the stomping vat? Having the feet sprayed down with a hose isn’t going to kill everything so potassium meta bi-sulfate is added to kill wild yeast and toe jam. Afterward, pectin is added to break down fiber in grapes and sugar is added to create 12 percent alcohol. After the juice has rested about 24 hours, yeast is added to begin the fermentation process. The grapes I stomped Saturday will be bottled and ready by mid-November. The customized label will include my photo stomping grapes!
In addition to the grape stomp, the day included live music, wine tastings and grape picking right off the vine, all for for $6. There were a variety of food vendors but the most refreshing beverage I found was a frozen cup of wine. When Henscratch Farms does not have a special event, visitors are welcome to tour the farm (see Big Boy Harley the pig), feed the chickens and sample the sweet Florida wine. The country store is adorable and full of canned goods and those perfect, unique items for the home and kitchen. I brought home a wine glass cuzzi. Too cute!
I’ll be heading back in November to pick up my wine and I’m looking forward to seeing the farm during a Florida Fall. As for the date of the next Annual Grape Stomp, visit the Henscratch Farms website for updates.
Henscratch Farms Vineyard & Winery
980 Henscratch Road
Lake Placid, Fla.
Tel: (863) 699-2060