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
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.