Grape clusters. Photo © Scott Mair

We rarely see grapes being crushed by foot these days, but visitors to the Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival earlier this month witnessed an old-fashioned grape stomp. Seven teams, dressed in costume, with grape juice soaking the hems of their trousers, shorts, gowns and dresses, competed against each other to stomp the grapes the fastest.

Their bare feet and enthusiasm served to remind spectators of wine making’s fundamentals.

Here and everywhere, wine making starts with sun, water, soil, and vines that take all of the above and turn it into grapes. Those who tend the vines and those that turn the grapes into wine strive to create product that represents and reveals the most desirable qualities of the fruit, place, climate, and so on. Each resulting bottle contains a bit of the heart and soul of the land and of the people who work it.

Yet, behind the growers of grapes and makers of wine, another community of players calls the shots. I’m not talking about grape stompers, who have been mostly replaced by mechanical presses these days. I’m talking about more enduring, pervasive contributors.

In the most basic sense, microbes make the wine….

Continue reading this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Grape vineyard. Photo © Monique Keiran 2009.

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