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Day Trips

Develop a crush at Messina-Hof Winery's Harvest Festival

By Gerald E. McLeod, Fri., July 26, 2013

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Messina Hof Winery in Bryan has rows of vines heavy with clusters of little purple grapes that need picking, and it might as well be done by you.

"It gives a sense of community," Merrill Bonarrigo says of the Harvest Festival tours. "It becomes [the participant's] vintage because they participated in it." The evening is simple and fun. It starts with an introduction to the winery by Merrill's son, Paul, who is a second-generation winemaker. Then it's off to the vines with a sharp knife to find the big Kahuna of clusters, all the picked grapes are collected, a monsignor blesses them, shoes are removed, and all that work is crushed à la I Love Lucy. After all that, it's time for dinner with the winemakers.

The annual Harvest Festival weekends harken back to the days when the Bonarrigos really did rely on volunteer labor to bring in their crop. In 1977, the tasting room was in a trailer that stood where the winery's two-story, red brick villa now stands. Paul, the senior, and Merrill not only built a winery from the ground up, but they helped develop the wine industry in Texas.

Messina Hof Winery and Resort is at 4545 Old Reliance Rd., just a few blocks east of TX 21 in Bryan. There is a second location east of Fredericksburg on U.S. 290. To see a full list of events, go to www.messinahof.com or call 979/778-9463.

1,147th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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