The harvesting season may be a popular occasion in many wine-producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain. During this time, countries such as France hold grape harvest parties in the surrounding local villages around the countryside around September time. The harvest date depends on how ripe the grapes are, which varies from region to region and is affected by weather conditions. In contrast to this, Argentina’s grape harvests tend to occur in February, due to differing climates and type of grape. The grape-harvesting season in Argentina may be a particularly exciting occasion in the province of Mendoza, located in Western Argentina. It is here tourists, locals and wine-enthusiasts alike may take to the streets and celebrate the country’s unique wine culture.
The province of Mendoza is highly associated with wine-production. It accounts for nearly two-thirds of Argentina’s entire wine production and is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the country. Its prime ecological conditions and high-altitude valleys offer the opportunity to produce wine with minimal pesticides. This may often result in the production of organic wines. Following the rise of wine-tourism, many wineries in Argentina have begun offering tourists the option to stay in accommodation located beside the vineyards and the opportunity to taste a variety of local wine. For example, Wines of Mendoza, a winery in Uco Valley offers luxury villas and a spa to enjoy, all merely a stone’s throw away from where the local wine is produced. These types of accommodation may be especially popular during February when the festival is due to take place.
The National Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza may be one of the more lively occasions for celebrating a harvest than any other of the wine-producing countries. The festival dates back to the 17th century, after the Minister of Industry and Public Works in Mendoza signed an agreement allowing the grape harvest to become a social event as part of the national agenda. To this day it is still regarded as a social occasion, bringing everyone from the vineyard workers to tourists together to enjoy the festivities and mark the end of the season. The event includes a major show, which takes place in the General San Martin Park and includes a mix of dancing, lights and music. It is an uplifting, energetic and lively show which is normally followed by a fireworks display. Many smaller shows also take place around Mendoza, including the Via Blanca de las Reinas, a grand parade which showcases the Queens who have been chosen as candidates for the Queen of the National Grape Harvest Festival.
Besides the grape harvest festival, there may be many alternative activities for visitors to enjoy. The natural landscape of Mendoza is mountainous as it is located closely to the Andes. Outdoorsy types may enjoy hiking the hills or rafting on the Mendoza River. Lovers of wine may wish to take a bike ride through Mendoza’s countryside to see the vineyards and visit traditional, family run wineries. In the town of Mendoza, there are many restaurants offering local delicacies and popular dishes such as steak or traditional Argentine cuts of meat. For those who enjoy theatre and live performances, there are several theatres which offer frequent shows, such as the Espacio Contemporaneo de Arte. Alternatively, there are several art galleries showcasing local artists work such as the Killka Gallery, a space filled with artistic creations focused on agriculture. An additional unique restaurant is the Ituzaingo Restaurant, which is filled with many paintings and sculptures, and may be of appeal to art lovers. In this case, there may be something for all to enjoy, besides the variety of local wine.
Where else in the world may wine tourism be on the increase?