Wines of the San Juan plans harvest festival

Mike Easterling

FARMINGTON — There’s work to be done the entire year at Wines of the San Juan, the family-owned and -operated winery located on the banks of the San Juan River in Blanco. But the middle of September is an especially busy, and festive, time.

The Great Grape Stomp is a mainstay of the Harvest Wine Festival at Wines of the San Juan, as two-person teams compete to see who can generate the most grape juice.

Workers began moving through the winery’s vineyards last week, collecting ripened white grapes. Winery spokesperson Brittny Arnold said an estimated 5.5 tons of white grapes and 4.5 tons of red grapes will be gathered from the vineyards this year.

That process serves as the inspiration for the annual Harvest Wine Festival, which is in its 15th year. The event, which attracts between 2,000 and 3,000 people each year, takes place this weekend and offers live music, contests, food, wine and beer, and dozens of vendors.

Arnold said the winery’s harvest this year is likely to be bountiful, something she attributed to cooperative weather and the recent replacement of low-producing grapevines with sturdier hybrids that fare better in this climate.

Wines of the San Juan also imports red and white grapes from Las Cruces, the Santa Fe area and southern Colorado. The whites are harvested before the reds, she said, and the harvest starts first in the south and moves north.

Many of those grapes will be featured in the festival’s signature event, the popular Great Grape Stomp that takes place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. Two-person teams, decked out in costumes, will compete to see who can produce the most juice with their bare feet by stomping grapes in giant tubs. As of last week, there were still a few spots open in the competition, which is expected to feature between nine and 12 teams, Arnold said.

“That’s one everybody seems to love,” she said of the event.

Prizes will be awarded for most juice produced, best costumes and best interaction with the audience.

Approximately 70 vendors are expected to take part in the 15th annual Harvest Wine Festival taking place this weekend at Wines of the San Juan.

Arnold said a salsa competition will return to the festival this year after being eliminated last year. The festival also will feature approximately 70 vendors offering a variety of food and drink, as well as stained glass, jewelry, pottery and paintings. There also will be a complimentary photo booth.

Arnold is especially proud of the festival’s musical lineup. The music begins at noon Saturday with a performance by the Durango, Colo., band the Cannondolls, while the Santa Fe band Todd and the Fox follow the Great Grape Stomp at 4 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 25, the Outskirts — a Durango folk-rock outfit — perform at noon, while Albuquerque’s Felix Y Los Gatos take the stage at 3 p.m.

Anyone interested in entering the Great Grape Stomp or salsa contest should contact Arnold at the winery.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: The 15th annual Harvest Wine Festival

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25

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

Tickets: $13 each day, free for children younger than 17 with a paying adult. Two-day passes available for $20

For more information: Call 505-632-0879 or visit