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Huge Pumpkins Pop Up In Wine Country

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Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Weigh-Off

Trucks loaded with giant pumpkins line up before the start of the 37th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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NAPA (CBS) – For a few glorious weeks in October pumpkins become a big deal – and for some, the bigger the better.

CBS News correspondent John Blackstone report some particularly determined growers are cultivating giants in a place better known for its grapes than its gourds: the Napa Valley, California’s wine country.

The same drive for excellence that has made the vineyards of the Napa Valley world famous is now being applied to something bigger—much bigger, and not red or white, but orange.

”It’s the small grapes and the big pumpkins,” said Lee Hudson. Hudson makes fine Chardonnay, but he’s hooked on the happiness that comes from enormous pumpkins. “It’s contagious,” he said. “There’s nothing more fascinating than seeing a vegetable that’s growing 30 pounds a day.”

So Hudson turned a corner of his vineyard into a pumpkin patch. With Leonardo Urena, his head gardener, Hudson set his sights on bringing big pumpkin glory to Napa.

At least a dozen Napa growers are now toiling to make the valley famous for pumpkins. Vern Blaziek nurtures the scaled-up squash beside his vines. “I’m not the only goofy one in town,” he said.

Napa was hopeful when Urena hauled a 1,400 pounder to the weigh-off in Half Moon Bay this week. But first place went to a 1,500 pounder from California’s sunnier Central Valley.

But don’t expect Napa’s pumpkin growers to whine. Next year they aim to squash the competition.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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