The Wine Fight is held on the morning of the 29th of June each year in the historical heart of Rioja just outside the town of Haro (pronounced Aro), and is an exuberant, liberating and totally awesome experience.
Unlike the Running of the
Bulls and San Fermin in Pamplona or the La Tomatina Tomato Festival in Bunol
near Valencia, the Wine Fight is a much more authentic Spanish fiesta with many
locals and fewer tourists.
From 7.00am in the morning
on a craggy hillside at the foot of the Cliffs of Bilibio boozy revellers begin
to gather. Most have had no sleep having partied all night in the town’s main
square to the many bands and DJ’s that have performed the night away. The
streets of Haro are filled the night before with locals of all ages and you’ll
often see kids and the elderly still there at dawn and heading to the Wine
Fight arm in arm.
With historical roots forged
a millennium ago, this wine throwing fiesta, known locally as the La Batalla
Del Vino (battle of the wine), is quite simply put…Crazy! According to
tradition, Haro had to reclaim its control of the area every year by raising
the town’s flag above the tiny chapel at the top of the cliff. Eventually
pilgrims who were to carry out this ritual, started feasting, drinking and
well…the rest is history as they say!
Combatants make their way the 6kms out of town to the location by foot, bike, horse, tractor, car, scooter, motorcycle, donkey or via the council provided free bus transfers which take you most of the way to the Cliffs of Bilibio. For this insane battle the weapon of choice is vino (wine) and there is no quarter asked and no mercy given once in the thick of the action. Armed with water pistols, buckets, crop sprayers, water bombs, jugs, backpacks, bottles and every other imaginable vessel that can hold liquid the crowd gleefully covers each other in red wine from head to toe.
The tradition of San Vino
dictates that everyone wears white clothing adorned with red sashes and scarves
and it’s pretty much guaranteed that by the end of the Wine Fight that there
won’t be any part of your clothing that’s not stained irreversibly red. Young
children can be seen attacking adults and grandparents can be seen dumping
buckets of red wine on very young children. There is no mercy.
Tourists are easily identifiable and simple cannon fodder for the locals and
are guaranteed to be soaked. This Wine Fight is bacchanalia at its core
and the wine god Bacchus himself would be proud to witness this ridiculous,
superfluous but totally energising and invigorating event.
Most tourists attending the Wine Fight
stay at the nearby campsite which is in a brilliant position just outside the
towns centre. An added advantage of staying at the campsite is that the local
buses also depart for the Wine Fight from the campsite, so it makes an ideal
base for tourists to locate themselves.
For loads more information on the event including accommodation
options and advice on how to prepare check out https://sites.google.com/view/winefight