By Brooke Felger / Photography by Dave Speckman
Off of Carroll Road on Old Mission Peninsula, is the Grey Hare Inn- a bed and breakfast that sits on 27 acres amongst vineyards, orchards, and panoramic views. Cindy and Jay Ruzak, the innkeepers/owners of the Inn, graciously hosted a special “Harvest Stomp Experience” for our staff and some local residents last year.
As soon as we had arrived and assembled on the trellised patio, Jay said that he was putting us to work: Not only were we going to stomp the grapes, but were also responsible for harvesting and de-stemming as well (the gardener in me rejoiced). They provided us with everything we needed: shears, bins, and brief instruction on how to tell which grapes were just right. So, to work we went.
After our bins were half full (and we had giggled and munched our way through almost a whole section of grape vines) we settled down at a large wooden vat to de-stem. In a circle, we were able to introduce ourselves to each other, chat, and of course I provided some wine that was made from the Inn’s grapes at Peninsula Cellars so our participants could get a feel of reaping the benefits of their labor (even though Jay jokingly reminded us when we were too busy enjoying ourselves to notice a big stem going into the vat, or we were picking too slowly). I quickly understood why this makes such a great activity to do with bridal parties, friends, or work groups.
Then, two by two, we hopped into the vat and started squishing. I was unprepared for how slippery the vat got, but luckily, Cindy and Jay had figured that out too- they had us hook arms with our neighbors at both sides as we circled. This was the part that yielded the most laughs as we channeled our inner Lucy as she iconically stomped grapes in “Lucy’s Italian Movie”.
We ended our experience with hors d’oeuvres provided by the inn: whitefish pate with cornichons slices on crackers, tomato bruschetta with basil pesto on olive parmesan bread, and Cindy even managed to convert me from an avid olive-hater to lover with an olive tapenade on baguette bread with goat cheese. I would highly suggest participating in this modern Piégage if you have a love for wine, the history of it, or are just an adventure-seeker in general. Plus, it makes for a great story!
The Grey Hare Inn offers accommodations in three rooms, as well as packages for the skiing or wine-making enthusiast. More information can be found on their website: www.greyhareinn.com.
The Grey Hare Inn is located at 1994 Carroll Road on Old Mission Peninsula.
Call (231) 947-2214 for dates on this year’s Grey Hare Inn Annual Harvest Stomp Party. Experience Old World Grape Harvest by hand picking and de-stemming grapes and then stomping them into juice with your feet. Tasting of the wine made from the inn’s grapes at Peninsula Cellars and local produce hors d’oeuvres sampling are included in the $50 per person charge. Advance Reservations required and private events of 10 persons or more can be arranged for different times and dates.