Blessing of the Grapes Start Out the Harvest Season in Napa Valley

GEV was very fortunate to take part in two divinely joyous ceremonies last week. Our first stop was a blessing of the first fruits of the harvest at Grgich Hills Estate; this custom can be traced back to Old Testament times and it’s a three decades-long tradition for them. The winery has held a blessing of the grapes every year since the winery was founded in 1977 by Mike Grgich and Austin Hills. This year the winery is also celebrating the 90th birthday of Mike Grgich. Attendees enjoyed a glass of Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc paired with cheese during this age-old celebration of the start of the harvest and, afterwards, gleefully stomped grapes in front of the winery. Kick off your shoes and put some fun between your toes by stomping grapes this harvest! This experience includes a tasting of three wines and you’ll create your own unique keepsake by putting your grape-juice stained feet on a white “I stomped at Grgich Hills” t-shirt when you step out of the barrel. Mike Grgich first stomped grapes when he was three years old growing up in Croatia and he says his feet itch to stomp grapes every harvest.

Cost is $30 per person and includes stomping, t-shirt and wine tasting. The winery offers this harvest experience daily from now to Halloween. Stomping is available at the winery daily from 10am to 4pm. Reservations are not accepted. For more information, call 707-963-2784 or

Our second stop brought us to the monumental halls of Robert Mondavi Winery. Margrit Mondavi and director of winemaking Genevieve Janssens, celebrated the annual Blessing of the Grapes at the To Kallon Cellars with Father Gordon Kalil of the St. Helena Catholic Church presiding over the ceremony. This is a beloved tradition since the winery’s founding in 1966. The ceremony honors the bounty of the harvest and highlights the familial spirit of the winery staff. Following the blessing, Margrit Mondavi, friends, and winery employees raised a glass of Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Fumé Blanc in honor of the winery’s founder and namesake, and in celebration of the harvest. The toast was immediately followed by a reception at Robert Mondavi Hall.

Robert Mondavi Winery is of the first wineries to offer tours, tastings, culinary and art programs – their commitment to education continues with their world-renowned visitor programs.

The winery is open to visitors daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. To make a reservation on-line, please click here. For additional information, please call Robert Mondavi Winery at 1-888-RMONDAVI (888-766-6328); option 2.