Vendimia Harvest Festival – Mendoza

Maipu Harvest Queen - Mendoza
Image courtesy of Tokyo Tanenhaus via Flickr

February marks the beginning of the harvest in South America, and nowhere is this more celebrated than Mendoza, one of the world’s great wine capitals. Tucked into the foothills of the Andes, Mendoza and its people have a long history viticulture and wine making and have been producing wine since the 1550s.

Vendimia — Mendoza’s wine harvest festival, takes place on the first weekend of March each year. This event has been aptly described as a ‘Eurovision Song Contest rolled up with a North American beauty pageant, served up with a South American street carnival and washed down with lots of wine.’

Although the main event takes place in March the months leading up to it, are filled with cultural activities throughout the province of Mendoza. Each of the regions within the province holds its own, smaller festival celebrations where a regional ‘Harvest Queen’ is elected, music festivals, food festivals; fireworks, plays and sport events take place.

Here is a run down to the main events that take place in the festival:

h3. 28th February to 8th March 2010

h3. Sunday 28th February – Bendicion de los Frutos (Blessing of the Fruit)

The Vendimia officially begins with a sunset blessing of the vineyards and grapes by the Archbishop of Mendoza, signalling the end of the work year in the fields. Mendocinians give thanks for the harvest with an offering of the new wine, then the celebrations commence. The event is attended by tourists and locals alike, including those from the various regions throughout the province of Mendoza.

Throughout the weekend, parades of Carnival floats and traditional locomotives make their way through the city streets. Each region is represented by their elected ‘Harvest Queen’ and the lucky girl gets to witness the festivities from the top of her regional float in the parade.

h3. Friday PM 5th March – Vía Blanca de las Reinas (White Way of Queens)

Known locally as the Vía Blanca de las Reinas, is a colourful carnival procession of decorated floats (each made by the different regions of Mendoza) that showcases the 17 regional Harvest Festival Queens in front of the admiring crowd on the Friday evening through downtown streets of the city.
The event attracts crowds of about 200,000 people.

h3. Saturday 6th March – Carrusel

On Saturday, the popular Carrusel features gauchos in typical dress riding their faithful horses up and down the streets with a procession of traditional wooden ox carts, traditional folk bands playing and folk dancing. Over 300,000 people come to join in with the festivities.

Gaucho Mendoza Vendimia
Image courtesy of Tokyo Tanenhaus via Flickr

h3. Saturday PM 6th March – “Acto Central”

The festival culminates on Saturday night with the election of the Official Reina de Vendimia (Harvest Queen) at the Greek Amphitheatre in Mendoza’s Park San Martin. More than 40,000 spectators enjoy the amazing theatrical show of lights, choreographed dances and festival songs celebrating Mendoza’s wine history and culture. Then the Vendimia Queen is finally crowned and the event closes with a huge firework display.

Here is a video of a previous performance at the Acto Central:Tango dancing on water

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Paula Lucero

Paula Lucero

Paula Lucero is Argento's hospitality manager at Casa Argento in Chacras de Coria, Mendoza. Having spent ten years cruising around the world, Paula has returned to her home city of Mendoza with an international eye for all the hot goings-on around town. She has her finger on the pulse of Mendoza and always knows what's new and exciting on the scene. When she's not entertaining guests from across the globe, she's entertaining her adorable young son, and she loves to go horseback riding among Mendoza's surrounding natural beauty.
Paula Lucero

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