HANCOCK COUNTY, Iowa - Some people spent their Labor Day doing something a little different - picking and stomping grapes.
It's harvest time, so 99 Bottles Winery & Vineyard near Garner held their annual Picking Party, where guests picked Frontenac and Marquette grapes in order to make wine.
Co-owner Mark Newman says the right time to pick grapes can be measured down to a science, and plans the event around when it's the right time.
"We schedule it when the grapes are ready. There are three measurement devices we use; one is an acid, and the other is the sugar level, and the third one is just plain taste. I give them to little kids, and if they like them, they're ready to pick."
In addition, teams were able to step on grapes as part of a Grape Stomp; however, Newman adds that the wine produced by stomping would not be used for human consumption.
"We use machines to do most of it, like 99.9% of it. We will stomp about 10-12 five gallon pails of wine just for fun, and we'll throw those grapes away or give them to the cattle."
Newman adds that the event usually happens later in the month when it's cooler, but because of the amount of moisture this year, the grapes started to ripen early. In addition, Newman says that the event has been gaining more participants since its beginning five years ago, and is doubling in size each year.
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