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Grape stomp, 5K run offered by Airfield Estates

PROSSER - Guests and visitors to Airfield Estates this coming Saturday will have a hand, er, make that foot, in crushing grapes that will be used in its 2008 rose wine, which will be bottled next year.

Airfield Estates, owned by Sunnyside's Mike Miller, is gearing up for its second annual 5K run and grape stomp.

According to Lori Miller, last year's run through the winery's Sunnyside vineyards drew about 50 participants. Some, she said, were die-hard marathon runners. Others were families with young children that simply enjoyed walking the course.

"(Serious runners) came to us afterwards and said what a great course it was, that it was nice because it wasn't on concrete," said Miller. "Then we had people who just walked (the course), some with their dogs on a leash."

Miller said there's a reason why the 5K run is on the same day as the grape stomp.

"Because our winery is located in Prosser, our customers don't come out to our vineyard very often, (so) we came up with (this)," she said. "What better time to do that than harvest time, when the grapes are ripe on the vine."

Miller said one fun aspect of either running or walking the five-kilometer course is that there are stations set up so visitors can stop and play "guess the grape" by popping one of the tasty treats in their mouths and then guessing which kind of wine grape it is. For those who guess correctly, minutes are shaved off of their finish time.

Following the run, there's a grape stomp at the winery in Prosser.

"Other grape stomps are competitive and don't even use real wine grapes," said Miller. "(Ours) is not a competition, it's more interactive. We're getting our customers involved in helping us make our wine." She added that stomping grapes by foot is a much more gentle way to crush grapes for winemaking.

Also on tap at the winery will be winemaking 101 sessions, where guests and visitors can learn the basics.

Those who stomped grapes at the winery last year can actually sample the fruits of their labor. After all, it's bottled in Airfield Estates' Foot-Stomped Syrah Rose.

The run at the Sunnyside vineyard starts at 10:30 a.m. Pre-registration is available by visiting www.airfieldwines.com. Registration the day of the event begins at 9 a.m. A quick visit to the winery's website provides directions to the Sunnyside vineyard.

Cost to attend the run is $10 per person and cost to participate in the grape stomp is $25.

This coming Sunday, Oct. 5, and Sunday, Oct. 12, Elegant Wine Country Limousine service will provide 5-hour winery tours at a cost of $75 per person. Proceeds will benefit Prosser resident Cliff Bohlke, who suffered burns to his face and hands in an accident a few months ago. For specific details about the winery tour, call Cindy Tucker at 509-781-0360 or email thetuckers@bentonrea.com.

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