When I was a wee child in southern England, a harvest festival meant going to church with a bag of nonperishable goods and a punnet of tomatoes to sing some hymns at the start of autumn. But in wine-producing province Mendoza, harvest is so much more than a 90-minute celebration in the local parish.
Vendimia or “grape harvest” holds huge importance in all 18 corners of the province, bringing together mendocinos from Malargüe in the south to Rivadavia in the east and Luján de Cuyo in the west. Named one of the top 10 harvest celebrations in the world by National Geographic, the main aim is to give thanks to the patron saint of grape harvests, the Virgen de la Carrodilla. Besides that and a tiny religious experience thanks to a letter written by Pope Francis himself at the Bendición de los Frutos blessing, Vendimia then turns into one long party, Mendoza style. In 2014 the official festivities lasted 11 days, peaking with a weekend extravaganza from 7-9 March. The Real Argentina was there to wave at the queens, catch pieces of fruit and of course celebrate the meaning of wine.
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