TURLEY — It's time for the final batch of grapes to be processed into wine at Wines of the San Juan.

Bring out the feet.

Wines of the San Juan Harvest Festival started Saturday and continues today at the family-owned-and-operated winery in Turley.

The winery has one last order of New Mexico grapes it will process into 2012 wines, said David Arnold, who started the winery 10 years ago with his wife, Marcia.

Most of the last grapes are in a refrigerator and will be smashed with machinery on Monday.

But for fun and tradition, the Arnolds start processing the final grapes of the season with customers' feet.

A grape-stomping competition has become one of the crowd favorites at the winery's annual festival. Teams of two, a stomper and a swabber who are dressed in costumes, competed Saturday to mash grapes down with feet and collect the most juice.

The juice from the competition is processed into wine just like all other juice at the winery, David Arnold said.

"It's a really fun draw for people - to know they are participating in some aspect of winemaking out here," said Alex Arnold, who coordinated the harvest festival.

The contestants took a small stage Saturday afternoon and stood in their own bucket of grapes. For three minutes one team member squashed grapes with his or her feet while the other swabbed and mashed at the mushy grapes to funnel them into a hole where the juice collected in a bucket.


"Harvest is the time of year when we all get sticky," Josh Arnold, one of the wine producers for the Arnold family, said during the competition.

"Get as much juice as you can," he said. "In our business, that's what pays the bills."

Alex Arnold said the winery was hoping 4,000 people would attend harvest festival on Saturday and today.

In addition to the glasses and bottles of wine, there are local artists, food and live music going on all day at the winery this weekend.

Hundreds of wine drinkers were on hand for the grape stomp competition.

Pam Barsanti and Debbie Smith, both from Pagosa Springs, participated in the grape stomp on Saturday.

They were on a day trip to the winery for the festival. They became familiar with the operation by attending a five-kilometer race at the winery in the spring.

"I stomped until I was out of breath," Barsanti said after the competition. "It was like stepping on wet grapes."

Wines of the San Juan produced about 4,200 cases of wine in 2011, David Arnold said. Most of it is sold locally but the winery also can ship wine to customers throughout the country.

The winery is hoping to release two new types of wine by the end of September. One of the wines is called Taxi Drive and the other is called Rebel Star.