Families and winemakers celebrated the beginning of fall at the eighth annual Crush Festival at Les Bourgeois Vineyard in Rocheport.
Laura Royse, marketing director for Les Bourgeois, coordinated her third festival Saturday. “It’s a way to celebrate harvest and invite the public out,” Royse said.
“We try to make it as much a family day as possible,” said Cory Bomgaars, winemaker for Les Bourgeois. “It’s a fun day overall.”
Over the years, more activities for kids have been added, including childrens’ crafts, a bounce house and a fishing derby.
The Missouri Department of Conservation donated fishing poles and tackle boxes for the fishing derby. Drew Lemberger, a winemaker and judge of the homemade wine competition, helps kids with fishing. “I feed hooks, set them up with poles and take fish off,” Lemberger said.
People of all ages were invited to participate in traditional grape stomping. Two half-barrels were set up with tubes to drain the grape juice into buckets.
“Washing feet is included in the grape stomp,” Bomgaars said, pointing to a hose next to the barrels.
The homemade wine competition invited amateur winemakers to enter their wines in one of four categories: red, white, fruit and most unique. Winners received a gift basket from Les Bourgeois and 50 pounds of grapes.
“They can experiment with our grapes to make more wine,” Royes said.
Tony Petruso came from St. Louis to enter four of his wines in the competition. He entered coffee wine in the most unique category. “I like to make strange wines,” Petruso said.
Paul and Alana Williams, from Independence, attended the festival last year and came for the wine tasting, ambiance and view.
“The winemakers are so friendly and have a very decent wine,” Alana Williams said.
To wrap up the evening, The Doxies played live music from 6 to 8 p.m.
The term “crush” is for when the vineyards bring in grapes and prepare them for winemaking. The harvest season begins in early August and ends Oct 1.
Les Bourgeois hosts a Collectors Series Party every spring when the wines they prepare in the fall are released.