Are there special shoes or foot coverings used for grape stomping? Or what is used to sanitize bare feet?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Are there special shoes or foot coverings used for grape stomping? Or what is used to sanitize bare feet?

—Michael C., Pearland, Texas

Dear Michael,

These days, foot trodding has been mostly replaced by other methods, but it’s still common in Port production, and at some smaller wineries. There are also grape stomping festivals and competitions held around harvest, though those typically aren’t related to production.

For sanitizer, feet can either be sprayed with or dunked into various sanitizing solutions, and then typically rinsed off before entering the grapes. The good news is that because of the alcohol content, human pathogens can’t survive in wine.

As far as footwear, it’s pretty typical for wineries to have rubber boots on hand—if not for foot-trodding, then for punch-downs. That’s when all the winemaking solids—skins, seeds, pulp, stems and such—are reintegrated back into the wine. Cellar staff can climb into the vat, stand on this pretty solid cap and use a tool like a huge potato masher to push it down.

—Dr. Vinny

Winemaking Techniques Explained Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

If a cork gets pushed into a wine bottle, is the wine ruined?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny puts a reader's fears to rest and offers tips for how to …

May 24, 2019

How do you clean wineglasses to a spot-free, clear shine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for cleaning fine stemware.

May 22, 2019

What does the word “unctuous” mean in a wine tasting note?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the term "unctuous," typically ascribed to …

May 20, 2019

Are collectible wines still collectible after the wine has gone bad?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks to Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago about 50-year-old …

May 17, 2019

Why aren't bottles stored on their sides at wine stores?

Wine's Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine bottles need to be stored on their …

May 15, 2019

Is there a polite way to tell a winemaker that I'm not enjoying their wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny suggests a few etiquette tips for kindly declining an …

May 13, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search