Monday, August 31, 2009

The Raging Controversies at the Swiss Wine Festival Celebrity Grape Stomp

Now, I'll be the first one to say I'm more than a little competitive (and if not, I'll at least say it before you do, so nyah!), so my competitive juices were bubbling and fermenting when I was invited to be a celebrity grape stomper at this year's Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay, Indiana.

I was one of 19 media types from Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, and of course, Vevay. I made the journey down with my family, and met my fellow stompers, like Paul Poteet of WRTV Channel 6 (Indianapolis), Renaissance woman Julie Tam of WDRB Fox 41 (Louisville), and Jen Dalton and Tara Pachmayer of WKRC Channel 12 (Cincinnati), and other notable media types from Indy, Cincinnati, and Louisville. Other celebs included Arik Hartvig from PBS' Across Indiana, Taylor Bennett, and Joe Ulery from WIBC/Network Indiana, and Andy Ferguson from Vevay's own Froggy Radio.

The stomp was for charity, and each member was stomping for the charity of their choice. Ulery ended up winning the entire thing with 10 1/3 cups of stomped juice, and bringing home $1,000 for the Madison County Humane Society. Elizabeth Musgrave, columnist for the West Side Community News (Indianapolis) won $500 for Freedom Cookies and Proctor Park, and Paul Poteet finished third, winning $250 for the Wheeler Mission. I finished 13th.

All in all, I was pleased with our state's performance, because while I like my new friends from Louisville and Cincinnati, we needed an Indiana win. "This is an Indiana town, in an Indiana county, honoring an Indiana industry," I told Paul a couple weeks ago. Indiana is home to the country's first commercial winemakers — so suck it, California! —— which is why a Hoosier win was so important

Controversy Overshadows Some Stompers

However, this stomp was not without its share of controversy. Put it down to celebrity ego, put it down to an overdeveloped sense of competition, put it down to the fact that I needed material for my blog, but a few stompers in the early rounds noticed that stompers in the later rounds had an extra advantage because all the juice created by the early stompers didn't make it into the jugs. That is, we created extra juice that remained in our vats, so it was no problem for the later stompers to just shove it in with their feet, thus standing on the shoulders of those who came before them.

A quick calculation of the average output of juice per round shows an marked increase from earlier rounds to later rounds. Round 4 was Elizabeth Musgrave's round, while round 5 was Ulery's. Paul Poteet had my vat in round 2, and was able to stomp, squish, and splash his way to third place (coincidence? I think not).

As a result of my experiences and research, I have learned two very important things:
  1. I have too much time on my hands.

  2. I am a sore loser.

You can read a recap of my weekend in Switzerland County on the website.

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  1. I found your blog by Paul Poteet's tweet linking to the Visit Indiana blog about the stomping festivities and from there, I managed to find your blog! Whew!

    Anyway- I think you are really on to something. I thought the SAME THING when watching the celebrity milking at the state fair this year. Each subsequent person who milked got more than the person before them. As someone who has nursed 2 babies, I can tell you that once the flow starts, it gets stronger and that all the stopping and starting really sets up that last person for a good amount of milk if they have an inkling of what they are doing.

    So I say all that just to say... I totally believe you.

  2. couldn't agree with you more, Erik. I stomped in round two and couldn't help but notice how much juice was left in my barrel after one round. then saw the numbers go up each round. they should've emptied the bins after each roud. hopefully it will be fixed before next year. I too am sore loser and would like a re-stomp!

  3. Looks like it was a fun event.. Might have to make a road trip down there for next year's festival


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