Iowa State Fair Wine Experience Photos
The Wine Experience at the Iowa State Fair was held August 9th to 19th on a hilltop on the 445 acre Iowa fair grounds in Des Moines. According to Mike White, viticulture specialist at Iowa State University, 70,000-80,000 people visited the Wine Experience at the Iowa State Fair making it one of the largest wine events in the Midwest.
For 2012, the Wine Experience was expanded so that it occupied an entire hilltop that was once an operating farm dating from the 185o’s. For the first time, The Wine and Cheese Garden tent was moved to the location of an old farm-house next to the renovated 1907 barn that is used for State Fair wine tastings. (The original farm-house was removed.)
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Tastings in the old barn included the gold and double gold winners from the Iowa State Fair Commercial Wine Competition. Also available for tastings were two wines made specially for the Fair; State Fair Red, produced by Tassell Ridge Winery, and All Night White, produced by Jasper Winery in Des Moines.
“We change the label design each year for the State Fair wines and a lot people collect the bottles,” said Barb Rasko, organizer of the Iowa State Fair Wine Experience.
Another big draw at the Wine Experience was the “Grape Stomp” where participants competed to see how much juice they could crust with their feet in five minutes (see pictures.) “We do about 16 “stomps” a day and all told, we crust about eight tons of grapes during the course of the Fair,” said White of ISU. During the Fair, the juice from the Grape Stomp fermented in a plastic container on the Wine Experience grounds, although White said that it’s doubtful that anyone would ever drink the finished wine.