Friday Postcards from the Coppola Festival Vendemmia
Wine, meatballs and a grape crushing contest- what more could you ask for at a harvest festival, especially one such as the Coppola Festival Vendemmia at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
While in Geyserville, CA, I got a chance to check out this wine club members-only event in September. The carnival theme brought the kid out in every adult in attendance. Children were not allowed, so the grown ups got the first crack at the ring toss, barrel roping, strong man, fish bowl toss and grape stomping. Lines wrapped around the famous Coppola Winery pool as hungry patrons waited for meatballs, sausage sandwiches and pasta served up in little red and white-checkered containers. Each item was paired with one of the Coppola wines, with a selection of red or white at each booth to allow you to sample the tones of your liking.
Naturally I had to get in on the fun. I was dying to try the strong arm game, which involved me holding a mallet and whacking the base to try to ring the bell. No such luck hitting that bell, although I did do pretty well if I say so myself. The game attendant gave me five tickets for my efforts. Wahoo! Now that tickets were involved, I was even more motivated to jump around and play the games. Yes, there is a bit of a competitive streak in me, although it comes less from beating others and more into winning the prizes, and oh yes, there were prizes. Like your kids may get at Chucky Cheese, I was able to swamp my tickets for different items at the prize booth. There were no whoopie cushions or mini-dinosaurs here though, oh no. I cashed in my tickets for DVDs, CDs and a giant mug. Who knew I’d get a jump on my Christmas shopping so early in the season.
A wheel set up near one of the two wine bars was drawing quite a crowd as well. I wandered that way and saw that you could spin to earn a certain percentage off your wine purchase that evening. You could get in line as many times as you wanted to reach the ultimate goal of 50 percent off. It took me three tries (yes, I stood in that line that many times), but I finally got 47 percent, which was good enough for me. I had my eye on a pricey bottle of red wine for my husband and that coupon I had just earned sure would help. I might have stocked up on a few more bottles while in the winery shop too. I mean really, I needed a bottle to enjoy myself since I can’t drink red due to my migraines.
The night’s ultimate moment though was when my friend Dana and I took home the grape crushing prize. Early in the evening she had grabbed me to be her “poker.” This meant that while she was stomping her feet in sticky grapes, I got to crouch near the bottom of the barrel to unclog the pipe that took the juice from the barrel to the bucket where the juice was falling into. I hiked up my long maxi dress and got my head in the zone. There was a lot of skin and vine coming out of that pipe, but there was a massive amount of juice as well. In one minute Dana managed to crush 2000ml of juice. At the end of the night we learned that we had blown the competition out of the water with the closest runner-up coming in at 1500ml. We were each rewarded with a beautiful wooden cutting board, which I proudly packed in my carry-on suitcase.
Although this event is only for wine-club members and you do have to buy a ticket, and yes, you would probably want to be a resident of Northern California since it is only a one-night event, it was great fun to be a bit of a kid in grown up clothes, sipping wine, munching on meatballs and gelato bars, and strategizing how to spend my tickets. If the event opens up to guests, I highly recommend you take a night off from the norm and head over for a bit of fun. You never know what you might win.