Europe’s Wine Festivals
Over the past few days, Europe has been awash with wine festivals. Hundreds of thousands of people across the continent have drunk, tasted and literally danced in wine. We’ve highlighted three of these wine festivals for you to discover!
Haro Wine Festival/Battle – Spain
The Haro Wine Festival is organized in the town of Haro located in the northern Spanish region of La Roja. The festival is held on the San Pedro (Saint Peter) day, the 29th June. A week of festivities including wine drinking contests takes place leading up to the culmination of the famous ‘Batalla de Vino’ (Battle of the Wine).
At 9 o´clock in the morning a procession takes place in the streets of the town. At the head of this is the mayor on horseback with a banner, and following him are the citizens of Haro, all dressed in white with red scarfs. They are carrying jugs, bottles, carboys and what ever you can fill with wine. All ages participate but the youngsters dominate. They walk or drive to a mountain with a chapel where a mass is held.
After the mass, a large scale free-for-all breaks out, where everyone sprinkles each other with wine. There is one rule – the old tradition of ‘Bring Your Own Wine!’. The aim is to have as much fun as possible!
The history of the battle can be traced back to a land dispute in the 10th century. It was in 1906 however that the first wine battle was held – perhaps everyone realised that there was more use in drinking wine and having fun together than holding grudges!
Bordeaux Wine Festival – France
This festival is an opportunity for fans of fine wine, good food and culture to enjoy a great festive moment. It will be a celebration of the senses on the largest square in Europe, right on the banks of the Garonne.
You can wander along the mile long Wine Road from 11 am to midnight which includes 10 pavilions with a wide range of wines from producers and merchants featuring the diversity of Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region – some 80 appellations.
The 2010 festival welcomed 500,000 visitors to this historic town, and similar numbers have attended this year’s festival also. The visitors were perhaps not only attracted to a town famed for its beauty and heritage (it is a UNESCO world heritage site), it is also one of the most important areas for wine in France. There are about 300 négociants, or merchants, in Bordeaux, with a combined annual turnover of some 3 billion euros. They are major players in the local wine industry and sell over 70% of total production in France and 170 foreign countries.
Bordeaux is also celebrating its food heritage – twelve stalls line the quay offering local produce. There were also three gourmet restaurants where you can accompany your glass of wine by tasting the best products of Aquitaine, created by local artisans: the foie gras and ceps of Périgord, Bayonne ham, Arcachon oysters.
With wine tasting classes led by experts, live music performances from the likes of Lou Reed (of Velvet Underground fame) and an extravagant fire-work display to celebrate the culmination of the festival, the Bordeaux wine festival seems once again to have been a triumphant success.
Rethymnon Wine Festival/Cretan Diet Festival – Crete
For years, the Touring Club of Rethymnon organised the Rethymnon Wine Festival – a 2-week celebration of Cretan wine, music and dance. However, in 2012, the identity of the festival has changed, and the Cretan Diet Festival has been born!
The festival invites visitors to discover the wealth of cultural identity to be found on the Greek island and the variety and high nutritional value of products found on its shores. The narrow medieval streets of Rethymnon are lined with Venetian townhouses and restaurants.
The festival takes place on the sun drenched island this week from the 1st – 7th July. It is still easy to find the roots of the old wine festival, with barrels of the very best wine from the local vineyards available.
With so many fantastic celebrations of wine taking place this summer, it seems only right to toast the organisers of these events; for creating such wonderful festivals and bringing so many people together. Cheers!
*For more upcoming wine festivals or tastings visit the Foodie Event Listings for your region of the world, available above in the menu. *
Haro Wine Festival images by ‘bigsus’ (Wikipedia)
Bordeaux Wine Festival images by Gilles Arroyo and Jean Bernard Nadeau
Rethymnon Marina sunset image from www.we-love-crete.com
independent, footage.shutterstock.com, lemaxmall,