Grape stomp still at Harvey festival’s heart
From the very first Harvey Harvest Festival, the iconic grapestomping has been a huge part of the event, growing to become the WA Grape Stomping Championships.
Even before joining the Harvey Mainstreet committee, vice-chairman David Marshall was involved in the first running of the grape stomp in 1999.
“There was a wagon wheel from an old big cart and that was where the grape stomping was,” Mr Marshall said.
“It wasn’t in the main area, it was just part of the festival.
“From 2001 onwards it relocated into the main part of the park and grew, once we got the title WA Grape Stomping Championships, into our focal point for the day.”
Mr Marshall at the time of the first festival the Harvey wine industry had only just begun.
“It was a natural fit, as before that we really didn’t have much of a wine industry,” he said.
Mr Marshall said former committee member Otto Gerschow was instrumental in the competition’s registration as the WA Grape Stomping Championships.
“Otto is really well known to Harvey-ites as just an amazing volunteer, he put his hand up for a lot of things in this town over many years,” he said.
“He was the one who could see the benefit and the potential of what that grape stomp might become.” When the event first started, Mr Marshall said it had a lot of attention as a novel and fun attraction at the festival.
“Now you have heats and it works its way to finals, back then it was just ‘next, who wants to have a go, take your shoes off and come and have a go’,” he said.
“We’ve still tried to continue that enjoyable fun thing that goes on but now there’s more structure to it and the prize is a lot bigger.
“From just a fun thing to do to something people take quite seriously, and you only need to look at the trophy.”
Mr Marshall said the grape stomp had been won by long-time and temporary Harvey residents over the years, with plenty of international champions.
“We’ve got people from all over the world who have actually won it who either just happened to be in Harvey on that day or living here because they’re backpacking, or who have come to the area specifically to have a go,” he said.
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