While the grapes themselves are an important part of winemaking, the process in many wine-producing regions is heavily commercialized. The process of pigéage (or as we know it foot treading) is one that has been forgotten over time. Winemakers believe that it unquestionably produces the most superior quality of wine. 

Let’s get a closer look into the procedure.

Once the grapes reach the vineyard, they are taken to the cellar and placed in large bins. They have to be big to accommodate one or two people to step and tread the grapes. The stomping on the feet break-free the berries and break them with the right amount of force. The juice pours out as a result. The juice becomes in contact with the feet. Now, our feet are in fact covered with yeast. This helps facilitate the fermentation process. 

The winemaker will often tread the grapes twice a day for weeks. The task is quite demanding and takes a significant amount of time. In the bin, the skins of grapes will separate and juices will stay afloat on top. This step can be mechanised and most wineries do just that after all, it would be cheaper and quicker. But premium and speciality winemakers considered winemaking to be a delicate process, and the grapes passing through machines lose most if all of their distant traits and flavours. And wouldn’t that be a waste?

Most people are grossed out by the idea that someone stepped in their wine. But it is actually not that unhygienic. Winemakers will wash their feet with an iodized water solution to remove impurities and the bins are also cleaned thoroughly. It basically is the same thing as when a baker will hand knead bread. 

Wine treading is also a tradition in many vineyards and they allow guests to take part in the stomping. Surely, who would mind drinking wine you yourself stepped on?