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The Grape Harvest Festival: Celebrating Wine


The Grape Harvest Festival, or “Fiesta de la Vendimia” as it is originally called in Spanish, is the most important festival in Mendoza and the Cuyo region in Argentina.

Election of the Queen of the Grape Harvest 2014

Every year it attracts people from all over the country and many from all over the world. After Mendoza became the Eighth Great Wine Capital of the world in 2006, and also the host to the second most important Harvest Festival in the world (after Thanksgiving) according to National Geographic, it has been more and more recognized by its excellent offering of wines, especially Malbec blends.

A Glimpse of history.

The Grape Harvest Festival is the most important festival in Mendoza and the Cuyo region in Argentina. The early stages of the “Vendimia” dates back in 18th Century when the harvesters celebrated the ending of the harvest time and paid homage to the land and the weather for having made possible another season of work and the production of wine. This was an intimate celebration for the group of harvesters who threw a party where they played their guitars to the rhythm of the famous “cuecas” and “gatos” – The typical Mendocinian folklore dances. After dancing and eating, they chose the “Queen” of the harvest season from the female harvesters. She was crowned with a cluster of grapes and “held” the title until the following year.

Thus, through the initiative of a precursor of Spanish origin, Jose Diaz Trianez, the Fiesta de la Vendimia was done outside the intimate harvesters for the first time. The month chosen for this first festival in the city was April, where there were the first parade of beautiful carriages. There was a long period of 33 years when this event was not held, but the memory of the people’s desire, and the actions of visionary officials such as Don Guillermo Cano and Frank Romero Day in 1936, spurred a provincial decree to institutionalize the first Fiesta Vendimial. The gymnastics and fencing stadium at the opening evening sheltered 25,000 people.

Nowadays…

In the months preceding the big event, each of the eighteen departments (the political division of the province) hold smaller festivities where they elect their own queen (or “reina”) that will finally represent them on the big night. Approximately two weeks before the Harvest Festival all the departments will have already crowned their queens and people start seeing posters and billboards along the streets and highways with pictures of the beautiful queens.

The Festival’s Calendar!

Day 1: The Blessing of the Fruits

It is an artistic and religious act that has lately been celebrated in General San Martin Park (The biggest park in the city). The event is “ is an act of appreciation to God for the fruits received, with the participation of the Virgin of Carrodilla, image that came to Cuyo in 1911, bringing in her hands some grapes and closely linked to the history of the harvest.”

By decree No 54, the government of Cano, on February 9, 1938, declared the Celestial patron saint of Vineyards, under a title of La Carrodilla. The origin of the Blessing was established in Mendoza as a custom of peasants who dedicated their offering of fruit to any image near the end of the year’s work. The annual religious ceremony was officiated by the Archbishop of Mendoza and was attended by the Governor of the Province and other provincial and municipal authorities; the Queen of the Harvest, the departmental queens, and a lot of locals and tourists, to name but a few.

Day 2: The Queens Parade


The 18 finalists (the representative of each department) kick off the Friday night party with the Queens Parade through the streets of downtown Mendoza. Each “reina” represents her region with decorative costumes and chariots accompanied by the previous queen she’s replacing. The “Via Blanca de las Reinas” is accessible from the streets, but tickets are available to the Park Hyatt terrace for a posh viewing party with wine and tapas included.

Day 3 in the Morning: The Carousel


The Carousel is staged in the main streets of downtown Mendoza commemorating the wine and its context. It takes place on Saturday morning, preceding the Central Act. This tour of floats parades to the festival, through the streets of downtown, with the representative of each department and their queens. The parade also includes other Provincial and National Queens, as well as gaucho federations and other institutions of the province.

The idea is the summarizing of the past of Mendoza. And that is why gauchos parade with their donkeys, mules, horses, carriages and freight wagons, as a symbol of rural work and the crossing of the Cordillera, by the Liberation Army. In its origins, the most beautiful young people of each neighborhood would participate, representing the countryside. The Carousel has moved from the street of the General San Martin Park to the city streets, always with a participatory nature.

More than 200,000 people group up into the major arteries to see the parade of carriages that symbolize the rural work and which also incorporate the traditionalist centres and communities from other countries.

Day 3 in the Evening: The Central Act

The Central Act is carried out the first Saturday evening of March. It is the culmination of the harvest with a show in the central Greek Theatre Frank Romero Day, located at the foothills of Cerro de la Gloria at General San Martin Park and is the work of the architect Daniel Ramos Correas.

In the central act, there is the election and coronation of the National Queen of the Harvest, and afterwards  there is a party that shows a series of paintings representing life in Mendoza, the rural and urban areas.

The Central Party is organized through an artistic script and the participation of hundreds of dancers and actors on a stage of great dimensions. Thus, artistic expression and the products of this land are combined in a multitudinous festival with a local stamp. On Sunday, the entire spectacle is repeated, adding a number of artistic interpreters of the national hierarchy and a great fireworks show.

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/argentina-guide/?source=A-to-Z

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  1. 2 Comment(s)

  2.   By Happy fest on Nov 26, 2014 | Reply

    his is very good information on thanksgiving. I would like to wish Happy Thanksgiving to all. I also have Happy thanksgiving wishes and related information on http://happythanksgivingwishes.org/ So have a happy an blasted thanksgiving with your family and friends. Enjoy.

  3.   By english to spanish translation on Nov 26, 2014 | Reply

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!

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