Grape Stomp at DiMatteo Vineyards
On September 10, DiMatteo Vineyards hosted their annual Grape Stomp event on 8th Street at the winery. Known for the opportunity to stomp on grapes, eat good food, and to drink good wine, the event has been a favorite of many residents in town. The vineyard was packed with family and friends enjoying the beautiful day, as well as listening to the immersive music by Nick DeMatteo. He was aware of the relation in name to the Vineyard, and explained the origin. “Actually the spelling of my name is with a ‘De.’ DiMatteo is the original Italian spelling,” DeMatteo said.
DeMatteo was singing favorites such as “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin at the event, which boosted the atmosphere of the vineyard. DeMatteo had guests singing along with the lyrics to the classic tunes, and took time in between each song to engage with the crowd. Frank DiMatteo, the cousin of Nick DeMatteo and the owner of DiMatteo Vineyards, was present at the event, working hard to make sure everything was perfect for the Grape Stomp.
Felicia DiMattia and Greg Walczak were one of the first few to enter into the short but wide barrel filled with grapes at the event.
“It’s mushy, maybe a little bit cold,” Walczak said.
The two walked around in the barrel, and were smiling and laughing while stomping on the grapes. After exiting the barrel, the two were greeted with towels to dry their feet, as well as a shower head that was pointed at their toes.
Participants in the Grape Stomp would also get their picture taken by John DeLucca, who broke down the process of how guests could access the photo.
“We give them a 7x5” and then a sticker to put on a bottle of wine. I’ve got three cards on me right now, so when I’m done taking a bunch of pictures, I’ll give the card to Frank (DiMatteo) who will then put the cards onto the computer and then to the copier. Then I start using the second card,” DeLucca said.
DeLucca explained that one year they had 60 to 70 people getting photos at the Grape Stomp event, which in turn promoted the idea of multiple camera cards. The process allows for quick distribution of the photos to the guests, which they can put onto a bottle of wine.
The vineyard’s main attraction was the Grape Stomp portion, however large tents were placed around the event to give guests a place to sit and relax in the shade, listening to DeMatteo serenade the crowd. Different bars were put under the tents to offer easy access to try the famous DiMatteo wines, and to enjoy a nice drink on a sunny day.
Family friend Vinnie Dinardo was up early with the family setting up the event, explaining that it was more than a one day process.
“We started Wednesday and Thursday just slowly but all morning this morning and last night,” Dinardo said.
He went on, telling The Gazette how long the event had been running for, and some of the other events featured at the Grape Stomp.
“We’ve been doing this for eight years maybe, and our first one was really cool, there were literally three Lucys here,” Dinardo said.
Dinardo is referring to the Lucy contest, which is held at the event to see who can resemble Lucille Ball’s Lucy Ricardo from the show “I Love Lucy.”
“Everybody is going to have their redhead, but the outfit is a crucial piece,” Dinardo said.
There were a few guests who had shown up with some “Lucy” attire, as well as red hair making an appearance more than once at the event.
One of the guests at the event had traveled down from Philadelphia to attend the gathering. Peggy Zagarolo, a retired special education teacher, had driven down to support the event and the DiMatteo family. She was with George DelRossi who is a cousin to the family.
“I’m here to support, and have a nice time with a lot of good people,” Zagarolo said.
She reflected on the community in Hammonton, saying how kind everyone was to one another, and how the community comes together.
“I’ve talked to a lot of great people, and it’s really nice,” Zagarolo said.
DelRossi and Zagarolo had come to the event early to help set up some chairs for the Grape Stomp, and planned on relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous weather.
The Grape Stomp also featured food for the attendees, along with a few vendors who had come to support the event. Even though the event started at 12 p.m., people were showing up throughout the day, adding to the mix of guests. All ages from 21 and up were present at the event, showing that the younger generation is interested in traditions such as these in Hammonton.