Wine Harvest in Spain. Wine culture is intimately interwoven into Spanish culture. Find out more about the wine harvest and wine festivals in Spain.
They say that it was the biblical figure Noah who grew the first vines for producing wine. Whether or not that’s true, we do know that the ancient Egyptians made references to wine production in a time when royal cup-bearers tasted wines for the pharaoh.
Spain is a country with remarkable geographic and climatic diversity in comparison to some of its Western European neighbors. The country’s rich variety of landscapes helps give its regional products a uniqueness that is immediately recognizable, and its offerings from the fruit of the vine are certainly no exception.
In the northern hemisphere, the wine harvest (known in Spanish as the Vendimia), usually occurs between August and October. It is a time when vineyards are full of busy wine harvesters collecting the ripest bunches of grapes with great care, a fruit that has an important place in Mediterranean culture. The grapes are then sent to wineries where they’re first cleaned and the undesired elements are removed. Afterwards, they’re crushed to obtain the juice, which then goes into wooden barrels to be fermented and produced into wine following the different methods involved in making different varieties of the drink of Baco.
Wine culture is intimately interwoven into the fabric of Spanish culture. It is nearly impossible to imagine any popular Spanish fiesta without red, white, or sparkling wines to uplift the spirits of party-goers and to complement special meals. Wine is also an important social drink in Spain: bars here are places where you can see friends chatting, neighbors gossiping and even business colleagues closing deals with a handshake and a toast. How else could you explain the existence of the Spanish porrón (a glass wine pitcher that has a long drinking spout) if there were no need for a practical, comfortable, and hygienic way to share a good wine?
Wine Harvest Festivals in Spain
Around September, lively festivals take place all around Spain, many of which are wine harvest celebrations. La Rioja’s wine battle in Haro and the Vendimia Festival in Jerez de la Frontera are famous examples, but they’re not the only ones.
In the town of Jumilla, in the autonomous community of Murcia, a wine harvest festival is held each year that brings residents together to celebrate the crushing of the grapes, the inauguration of the wine fountain, the offering of the grapes and the first grape juice offered to the Niñico de las uvas (the affectionate name local residents use to refer to a statue of a young Jesus holding grapes) in the convent of Santa Ana del monte.
In Cordoba’s scenic countryside, Montilla throws its annual town festival, an exciting fiesta that has been officially classified by Spain as an event of special touristic interest. The festival gives way to flamenco events and the popular Fiesta de la Tapa, in which venenciadores (expert wine pourers who draw wine from barrels with a long handled dipper known as a venencia and serve it directly into cups from incredible heights) and toneleros (barrel makers) participate in competitions.
In Toro, the parade of carts that gathers within the town square represents the joyous celebration of completed work and it offers a vibrant setting for traditional music and exquisite food items such as torrezno, torrijas, and fried peppers.
Wine harvest festival traditions are particularly unique on the Canary Islands. In the town of Icod de los vinos, just north of Tenerife, thunderous noise fills the island air every November 30th when the town’s young people slide down hills on old barrel bottoms as if they were sledding. The kids make more noise on the same day by dragging empty cans and other metal objects in the so-called La Cacharrera event, recalling a time when bodega owners in the Orotava Valley would take their wine barrels into town to wash them in the sea water.
When exploring the Spanish landscape in the beginning of autumn, it’s hard not to find some festival celebrating wine and the wine harvest season. Some call Spain la piel de toro (the skin of the bull), in reference to an old Tartessian legend, but many others prefer to call it el odre de vino (the wineskin).