Vendimia in Mendoza – A Celebration of Wine

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You cannot escape wine in Mendoza at any time of the year, but least of all during harvest and the festival of Vendimia. Held the second weekend of March (with around a month’s worth of activities running up to it), Fiesta de la Vendimia is a huge attraction for both locals and tourists.

Parades, floats, folklore dances, lights shows, free food and, of course, plenty of wine, the Vendimia stirs up a torrent of activity during its peak.

Local neighbourhoods start gearing up for the Vendimia festival early in the year selecting their Reina (Queen) to put forward for the national competitions in March. Large billboard posters of the queens are plastered all over the city and huge cardboard cutouts sit outside the tourist office for weeks before the competition.

Mass wine tasting sessions start up around the end of February with local vineyards bringing a variety of their wines for thirsty tourists and Mendozinos to try. The Italian community usually puts on a nice spread in the last week with (an Argentine version of) Italian food and wine. However for the real foodies, the parade on the Friday night and Saturday morning is where you want to be as the floats move past you throwing out food and wine. After a few accidents in recent years, the bottles of wine are now passed out and the watermelons are thrown reassuringly less vigorously.

Friday night is the parade of the queens where a large crowd of people line the streets holding buckets on sticks to collect anything thrown in their direction. On Saturday morning it is a longer family parade with displays from gauchos and dancers.

Another important part of the Vendimia is the blessing of the grapes. One of the original components of the traditional festival, the blessing of the grapes takes place the Sunday before the final weekend when people gather to pray for a good harvest that year.

During the final weekend there is the big show on Saturday night with the election of the Vendimia Queen and also a long spectacle of dance and performance with an abundance of music and light displays. For those who miss the big show, or cannot afford the tickets, the show is repeated on Sunday and Monday at a cut cost.

After the festival, activities wind down and the real work kicks in as grape pickers migrate to the vineyards to collect the year’s bounty in record speed.

For more information about the Fiesta de la Vendimia visit the official website at http://www.vendimia.mendoza.gov.ar/vendimia/

Image by Tokyo Tanenhaus

2 Comments

NC Health Insurance on March 11, 10

Great post! Thanks so much for sharing this info 🙂

Paul B on March 17, 10

Sounds like a lot of fun, I wish I knew this earlier. At least there is always next year!

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