Disclaimer: Accommodations and meals were provided by Messina Hof.
When I think of grape stomping, the image of Lucille Ball manically galloping through a barrel of grapes immediately comes to mind. If you haven’t seen that scene since you were a kid, just know that I recently re-watched the clip and audibly LOLed to myself. While my own experience with smashing fruit with my toes wasn’t quite so comical, it was just as deeply satisfying as I had anticipated. I mean, who doesn't love squishing weird shit with their feet, amirite?
During Messina Hof’s second weekend of its annual Harvest Festival out in Bryan, TX, my boyfriend and I were treated to a stay in the Villa, a Rio-inspired dinner, a morning of picking grapes and stomping, and a dinner in the winery’s gorgeous cellar. It was a relaxing and vino-filled couple of days and so much fun!
Driving out to Bryan from Austin is such a breeze. We departed late Friday afternoon to make the most of our stay at the Villa Bed & Breakfast at Messina Hof and took the 90-minute drive out east to the adorable vineyard. We stayed in the Antoinette room, which had an opulent wooden bed and brightly-colored stained-glass windows, as well as a balcony that overlooked the small pond on site (where, fun fact, giant turtles will bum-rush the shore for free food handouts, and there's even supposedly a prehistoric-sized couple that will bully the smaller ones).
After check-in, we toured the grounds and wandered among the vines before heading to the tasting room, where we sampled plenty of Messina Hof wine and perused the small gift shop. (Spicy Reisling German style mustard, anyone?) There’s also a small wine bar on the grounds, where you can order snacks and the whole array of Messina Hof varietals. When you stay in the villa, you receive a complimentary cheese tray and glass of wine, which we took advantage of every day. Score!
For dinner, the Harvest Festival held a Dinner in Rio, where we enjoyed a South American-inspired three-course meal paired to the wines. Our first course of black beans with pork cracklins was my favorite.
Then, of course, is the harvest itself. We woke up SUPER early for breakfast in the villa at 7 a.m., and grabbed our shears to pick some grapes. Although it was already quite hot and there was a lot of standing, picking the grapes was strangely a lot of fun—for manual labor, I guess. I got into a rhythm hacking grapes off the vine and went after larger clusters that were twisted in several places for an even bigger personal challenge. After picking, the grapes were all dumped in huge containers inside, and we got to stompin’!
I was a little tentative stepping into the grape vessel (I didn’t want to be THIS lady!), but I absolutely loved how fun it was to squish the fruit under my feet. I had a giant, dopey smile on my face the whole time as I smashed and stomped my feet around. Once everyone got in their fill of stomping, the Bonarrigo family took us on a tour of the cellar, crush pad (the technical term where the grapes get, you guessed it, crushed), and the bottling belt.
Later that evening, we were treated to an intimate dinner in the cellar, where we dined under candlelight surrounded by barrels filled with vino. What was the most interesting part of the meal, though, was actually tasting some of the wine that was still in the aging process—it was super cool to actually taste the difference and see how far these little grapes come from the vine to the glass!
All in all, it was a very relaxing weekend out in Bryan, and I thoroughly enjoyed staying at the villa and unwinding without having to drive anywhere. The onsite wine bar is fun to visit with its giant sample pours and wine slushie machine (#froseallday). I sampled pretty much all of the Messina Hof wines and even found some new varietals I hadn’t tried before, so that’s always a win in my book.
The Messina Hof harvest celebration continues through Aug. 25 in both the Bryan and Fredericksburg locations.