Every September the Julian Chamber of Commerce celebrates the harvest of the grapes with a real, olde-world style grape stomp and festa at the Menghini Winery. This grape stomp out-does all others by providing two barrels for stomping – one for adults and one for children. This year’s Grape Stomp Festa will be held on September 5 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
To get the event started, tons of grapes are blessed, then poured into the barrels. The old-fashioned atmosphere is created with Italian music by Roman Holiday, and dancing, Bocce Ball competitions, stomping, wine tasting, and a variety of food and crafts for sale will keep you busy. The children’s activity area will include a Jumbo Jump, miniature golf, games, contests, prizes, and more. Situated in rolling hills covered with vineyards and apple orchards, the Menghini Winery offers an ideal setting for the Festa.
The Grape Stomp Festa is a Julian Chamber of Commerce fundraiser and has been for the last 15+ years. The festa draws approximately 2000 people each year. The proceeds from the event pays for marketing the town, cleaning the streets, maintaining the public restrooms, and funding historic preservation projects and events.
Julian is a historic gold mining town located approximately one hour east of San Diego. It is a quaint mountain retreat with four distinct seasons: spring brings the blossoming of many flowers including daffodils and lilacs; summer is perfect for hiking and star-gazing; fall is famous for the apple harvest and fall colors; while winter brings snowfall and bright, crisp days.
Although famous for its apples and superb apple pie, Julian has become the center for visitors who wish to stay in the mountains but take day trips to the nearby casinos, the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and the coast. It is known as the B&B capital of Southern California with its romantic atmosphere, and is also fast becoming a great destination for families, hikers, weddings, and corporate retreats.
Specialty shops line the historic streets, and the attractions are unique, ranging from wineries to gold mines to wolves. With a year-round calendar of unique events including the Old Time Melodrama, Gold Rush Days, Starfest, a 4th of July parade, and the Grape Stomp Festa, Julian offers plenty of old fashioned entertainment for couples, families, and groups of all ages.
The history of Julian began when Confederate veterans from Georgia headed West to seek their fortunes in a new, mostly unsettled land. Among these were cousins, Drue Bailey and Mike Julian, who found a lush meadow between the Vulcan Mountains and the Cuyamacas to their liking.
The town was named Julian, in honor of Mike, who later was elected San Diego County Assessor. The town was never big, at the most it boasted a population of about 600 — more than reside in the historic district today. Rumor has it that Julian almost became San Diego’s county seat.
A cattleman, Fred Coleman, found the first fleck of gold in a creek in early 1870. It was San Diego’s first and only gold rush. The gold rush was short lived, near over within a decade. But the pioneers stayed and began farming the rich land. While many crops were planted and animals pastured, Julian proved to be a fine place to grow apples. Apples continue to be produced in Julian. Their sweet, fresh flavor lures thousands to the mountains each fall, when visitors will find fruit stands overflowing with crisp fruit, homemade cider and other delicacies.
Many of the early pioneers are buried in the Julian Haven of Rest cemetery, located on the hill just North of town. The cemetery is open to the public.