It surprised everyone. We were all sure that Paul Poteet was going to win the $1,000 prize at the celebrity grape stomp at the Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay, Indiana.
Paul is tall, skinny, and has feet big enough that I took my family out on the Ohio River in one of his shoes, and we all thought his 11 cups was enough to carry the day. I remembered my measly 5 cup output from last year, but I was determined to beat that this year.
Celebrities line up 4 per round. We stomp as many grapes as we can for 2 minutes, while Tina Turner’s “Rolling On The River” plays. When the music stops, we stop. Each stomper has a swabber who tries to get all the juice out that we have stomped.
I mounted the stage with Jen Dalton of WKRC-TV (Cincinnati), Melissa Luebee of Midwest Living, and TJ Justice, the new director of Switzerland County Tourism. The music started playing — you start to get sick of the song after about 4 rounds — and I started stomping like crazy. It’s hard work, and the stompers are running in place like mad, the swabbers frantically pushing skins, stems, and pulp out of the way so the juice will flow.
I could hear my family screaming and yelling, but from vantage point, it didn’t look like I had produced that much juice. But once my swabber held up the jar, and I saw how full it was, I started to think I might have pulled off the upset.
When it was all done, I had come out on top with 16 2/3 cups, a new grape stomp record, and my charity, Good Samaritan Network, was going to be the beneficiary of $1,000.
(Don’t worry, this isn’t the full 2:00 stomp. I cut a bunch out of it.)
After it was all done, the swabbers each got a turn in the bucket, and got to choose their favorite stomper to do the swabbing for them. My swabber, Hannah, picked me, and I was more than happy to help her. I ended up with grape skins on my face, in my beard, on my shirt and shorts. I was a grape-covered mess, but my family and I had an awesome time.
We also had a chance to spend time with our fellow stompers at a reception afterward, we took the kids on some of the rides, and the Best Western Ogle Haus was gracious enough to provide rooms for all the stompers with a beautiful view of the river and a clear view of the fireworks on Saturday night. Breakfast was also provided by the Belterra Casino a few miles to the east the following morning.
If you ever get the chance to visit the Swiss Wine Festival, it’s held the last weekend of August. I’m already making plans for next year’s grape stomp, where I will have to defend my crown against my friends from Indianapolis and new friends from Louisville and Cincinnati.