Across the nation the Chile’s vineyards and wine growing regions are taking a well earned break for an annual knees-up that brings the whole family together. “La fiesta de la Vendimia, (the Wine Harvest festival)” is the tradition of celebrating the start of the grape harvest season in style — and none would be complete without plenty of dancing, music, games and delicious gastronomy.
Perhaps the event’s most recognizable custom, however, is the obligatory grape-stomping competitions. Teams compete to see who can squash the most grapes underfoot on stage to the cheers of an enthusiastic audience. At stake is a cash prize and, unsurprisingly, wine is also on hand for the winning team.
The first vendimia celebration in Chile is thought to have been in the northern town of Copiapó in 1551. Vineyard workers were rewarded with food and wine to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season. Now the festival is much more than a chance for dedicated agricultural workers to relax with the festivals drawing large numbers of both Chilean and foreign tourists.
But with so many rich, ripening valleys ready to welcome locals and tourists alike to celebrate harvest, how do you choose where to spend your autumn weekends?
This is Chile brings you a selection of some of the best vendimia festivals over the coming weeks in the central regions, so bring an appetite and ready your glass!
Curíco Valley — The country’s longest running vendimia festival can be found in Curíco, 120 miles south of the capital. Over four days the festival will receive around 200,000 visitors drawn in by the wide range of gastronomical specialities always on show. The festival runs from March 27-30. For more details, visit the Curíco Vendimia website.
Isla de Maipo — Possibly the most convenient festival for capital dwellers, the Isla de Maipo Vendimia is a mere 40 minutes from Santiago. The festival runs Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6. For more information on how to arrive, look here.
Casablanca Valley — Just 25 miles north of Santiago is the Casablanca Valley. This year’s Vendimia festival will see more than 10 vineyards participating and plying their wares. The party runs April 12-13. For more information, go here.