San Diego Bucket List: Julian Grape Stomp Festa


We randomly found about about the Julian Grape Stomp Festa at the Menghini Winery online, and decided it sounded like a fun thing to do. Julian is about an hour and a half east of us, tucked away in the mountains surrounding San Diego. The drive from our place through the mountains to Julian was beautiful, almost like winding through the hills of Tuscany (vineyards and all), and Julian itself reminded us a bit of the North Carolina countryside, but a little rockier. Once we got to the farm we parked in between the Menghini Winery and an apple orchard, and walked in to the festival.

Check out our first YouTube video below! 

We were immediately given wine glasses to try wine from all of the vendors there, but our minds were – as usual – on food first. Fortunately a food truck was selling delicious BBQ pork-smothered french fries, so…bingo. As soon as we sat down to eat the initial processions started; the owners came in on a cart, and a pastor blessed the giant cart stacked with dozens of buckets of grapes. After she finished, we all helped dump the grapes into two big barrels, and the stomping began, accompanied by an Italian band playing all kinds of interesting music. The lines to stomp were outrageous, so we wandered around the festival, admiring the falconry, people watching from under an apple tree, and tasting lots and lots of wine.


We poked around the winery, a little wooden building that looks like it may have once been a farmhouse. There were people sitting outside on the porch eating and drinking, and a throng of wine-tasters at the counter listening to the owner talk about the differences between his wines. When we walked back out to the festival a new band was playing Stevie Ray Vaughan, and we hopped in the shorter of the two grape stomping lines. We waited about five minutes, and then, just before it was our turn, the water to the hose gave out, so no one could wash their feet off. Pandemonium ensued. People lost their minds trying to cope with the fact that they would have to spend the rest of the day with sticky purple feet. We decided to brave the stomp anyway, and hope the water came back on by the time we were finished. What can I say, we’re adventurous.


Our line’s barrel was much smaller than the other one, about room enough for one person. Colby got in first, and squished around on the grapes, then I helped her out and climbed down myself. The ladder was soooo slippery, and one of the rungs was falling off, so…safe? I squished around for a little while too, trying to see how fast I could stomp, and then we both walked over to see how the water was doing. It still wasn’t working, but just as we were turning to leave, we heard cheers as the hose began to spray again. We ran over, washed our feet off, and drove home, stopping at a country thrift store in a barn on our way home.


All in all it was a very fun day. It was great to be in the mountains again, the festival was a good time, the food and wine were delicious, and we got to see a different part of California. Check out our Grape Stomp Festa video for more!