IF YOU GO

What: Harvest Wine Festival

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Wines of the San Juan, 233 N.M. Highway 511, Turley

Cost: $10

More info: 505-632-0879

FARMINGTON — For Wines of the San Juan, the grape harvest is more than just a vineyard event.

It's a time for the community to come together and celebrate the harvest.

The annual Harvest Wine Festival will be from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the winery.

"It's a time for us to give thanks for what we've received," said vineyard manager Jack Arnold.

The juice from stomped grapes is poured into a container at the Wines of the San Juan Harvest Festival on Sept. 29, 2012.
The juice from stomped grapes is poured into a container at the Wines of the San Juan Harvest Festival on Sept. 29, 2012. (The Daily Times file photo)

Arnold said the vineyard receives lots of support from neighbors, as well as from local farmers.

"We're very community-based," Arnold said.

In addition to the Harvest Wine Festival, the winery hosts weekly dinner and music events during the summer, as well as 5K races and art shows.

Arnold said his favorite part of the harvest festival is the grape stomp. For people who have never been to the festival, it can be a little bit of a shock seeing everybody dressed in costumes, he said.

"You almost think you're supposed to be in costume," he said.

The costumed participants get up on a platform, take off their shoes and begin stomping the grapes while the crowd cheers them on.

Some costumes donned in the past include the ever-popular pirate costume. However, the Arnold family boasts the honor of having the reigning champion team, which consists of Arnold's sister, Jennifer, and his daughter, Jazzmond. One year, the duo used feathers from winery peacocks to create "blue-winged olives" costumes, based on one of the wines produced at Wines of the San Juan.

Contestants in the Wine Stomp reach into a bucket of stomped grapes at the Wines of the San Juan Harvest Festival on Sept. 29, 2012.
Contestants in the Wine Stomp reach into a bucket of stomped grapes at the Wines of the San Juan Harvest Festival on Sept. 29, 2012. (The Daily Times file photo)

While the festival is focused on the wine harvest, it also remains family-friendly. Arnold says the festival features various children's activities, including a trampoline, horse rides, face painting and the Cowboy Fastdraw -- an activity put on by the San Juan Shootists in which family members challenge each other at target shooting. Nearly 60 local artists will display their work, and food vendors will also be present.

But the festival is first and foremost about the grapes and celebrating the harvest.

Arnold said this season's heavy rains have not really affected the harvest.

"We have pretty sandy soil, so water kind of goes away," Arnold said.

Patrick Wheeler with team I Love Winos and Angelia Heath dressed as Lucy wash up after stomping away on a bucket of grapes during the 2012 festival on
Patrick Wheeler with team I Love Winos and Angelia Heath dressed as Lucy wash up after stomping away on a bucket of grapes during the 2012 festival on Sept. 29, 2012. Wheeler and his wife, Leslie, at left, placed second in the competition. (The Daily Times file photo)

However, the harsh winter did impact the harvest, which influenced the Arnold family's decision to plant new hybrid varieties of grapes this year.

"They're going to be some of the most different flavors in the entire state," Arnold said.

The new wines will not be available for the next four to six years, Arnold said, because the winery has to wait for the plants to mature.

Arnold said that long maturation period and then the long process of making the wines is one of the reasons for having a harvest festival because so much work goes into making wine. Weather can have a harsher impact on grapes than on many other crops, Arnold said. Frost, hail and bugs can be devastating.

"It's just kind of a one-time harvest," Arnold said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.