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Crush Fest ends summer with a stomp, record crowds at winery
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Guests of Yonah Mountain Vineyards in Cleveland visit vendor booths, stomp grapes and taste wine during Crush Fest Saturday. An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people were expected to show up to the event on Saturday. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Thousands chose to spend their Saturday before Labor Day bypassing football to do their own brand of stomping.

As a result, Yonah Mountain Vineyards’ annual Crush Fest wine festival is getting bigger every year.

“This is our biggest so far,” said Jon Boisjolie, marketing and guest development director for the vineyards.

Last year, around 3,000 guests swarmed the campus of the Cleveland winery to stomp grapes, taste wines and listen to live music. This year, Boisjolie estimates the event drew closer to 5,000 or 6,000.

This year marks the seventh Crush Fest, which falls every year on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and coincides with the vineyards’ harvest schedule.

“It doesn’t make the football fans too happy, but that’s a good time for us,” Boisjolie said.

The vineyards will start harvesting its grapes next week.

The winery used some of its outdoor space to offer grape stomping to those who wanted to take part. Inside two large barrels, guests could hop in, squish some grapes between their toes, and hop back out at their leisure.

“The (grape stomping) is what most people come here for,” Boisjolie said.

Peggy Asher has wanted to stomp grapes since seeing Lucille Ball famously do so on “I Love Lucy” decades ago.

“I heard toe jam is what makes the wine good,” she said with a laugh.

Children also enjoyed stomping in the barrels and splashing the red liquid around, and there were also bounce houses set up for them.

While some people were there for the stomping, others were more interested in the wine itself.

“I love it,” Lauren Hinman said.

Hinman is part of the winery’s wine club, which sends out information regarding upcoming events like Crush Fest.

“(Yonah Mountain) is my favorite winery,” Hinman said. The Cumming woman had never been to the event before, but said she visits the winery regularly and heard about it through the employees.

Haley Stein, who recently turned 21 in June, had her first wine tasting at Crush Fest.

“(My mom) told me to get a ticket and come with her,” Stein said. “It’s nicely organized.”

The nice weather brought Clarkesville native Stein and others out to the vineyard, where the artisan market met to sell items.

Bob and Jane Miller bought the land in 2005 as an investment. They planted the first vines in 2007, a number has grown to 20 acres of planted vineyards.

The Millers created their first wine in 2006, which they released in 2009 when they also opened a tasting room in Sautee.

Since then, they have expanded the campus of Yonah Mountain Vineyards to include a tasting room and a 10,000-square-foot events space used for weddings and other events. At Crush Fest, the room was used for bands and indoor seating for those who purchased items from the food trucks.

For more information on Yonah Mountain Vineyards, visit www.yonahmountainvineyards.com.

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