Grape-harvest wine festivals
In rural culture, the grape harvest is connected with moments of celebration and drunkenness. Here is a brief guide to the main wine festivals of the Southern Hemisphere.
The wine festival in Santa Cruz takes place during the first days of March. It is Chile’s most important Creole festival and for three consecutive days the city reclaims the rural traditions and cultural heritage of the mid-South of the country. During the festival, visitors are invited to participate in activities at the wine cellars of the Colchagua vineyards and to find out how the experts go about making their excellent and characteristic Colchagua wines. But it is essentially a folk festival, where people meet up in the squares and parks to drink and celebrate together. It is an opportunity to discover the gastronomy and local crafts, traditional games, and to watch the Miss Grape Harvest contest.
Mendoza’s National Harvest Festival has been described as one of the five biggest events on the planet, up there with the likes of The Dragon Boat Festival in China; Rio de Janeiro Carnival in Brasil; Venice Carnival in Italy, and the Pamplona San Fermin Festival in Spain. It is without doubt the most important world festival held in honor of wine and the first edition dates back to the 1930s. Celebrations take place throughout the 18 regions that make up the province at the foot of the Andes during February and March, and culminate in a massive public street party in Mendoza. The most important events take place between the first Friday and Saturday of March: the “Carrusel” and “La Vía Blanca”(the procession of carnival floats through the streets of the city); the great Central Act, performed in the Frank Romero Day Greek amphitheater. Hundreds of actors and dancers take part in this grand-scale extravaganza of lights, dance and music, with spectators numbering tens of thousands.
The festival concludes with the crowning of the National Harvest Queen and a spectacular fireworks display.
At the end of February, Robertson on Route 62, the South African wine route, hosts the Hands-on Harvest Festival, a celebration of wine. The towns of Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor, Montagu, and Robertson in the Valley of Wine and Roses, offer the possibility to follow the journey of grapes from vine to barrel through grape picking and pressing and obviously also tasting the wines and local produce.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the festival did not take place, but sometime in the future when the emergency is over, those who choose a trip to South Africa in February must surely put a note in their diary to celebrate Robertson’s grape harvest. Also, not to be missed is seeing how a Pinotage Rosé is produced.
If you happen to be in Australia on April 17th 2021, make sure you end up in the Barossa Valley, and in particular on the sidewalks between Tanunda and Coulthard House in Nuriootpa. That way you will be able to watch the Vintage Festival Parade. Fanfare, carnival floats – over 60 took part in 2019 - and thousands of people will liven up one of the most renowned areas of the Australian wine industry.
The Barossa Vintage Festival is an event that has been taking place every two years since 1949 and enjoys huge popular support. Besides typical products, markets, and wine tastings, one of the attractions of the festival is the exhibition of homemade original scarecrows along the valley roads. The scarecrows start appearing in the fields and vineyards in March and are one of the icons of the Barossa Festival.