Monday, June 23, 2014

Crazy Festival Spain

Haro Wine Festival - Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine)

this lens' photo
Haro in Northern Spain, is in the middle of the wine growing region of La Rioja, and home to the annual Haro Wine Festival and the Batalla del Vino. Where the locals all arm themselves with water pistols, and splash each other with tens of thousands of litres of wine, turning everything purple.

Spain is not short of crazy festivals, but what seems silly to some, is part of the culture and traditional to others.

Of course, there are those that staunchly support this festival just for the wine - owe but for the wine. 

La Rioja Wine

I remember first hearing about Rioja in a Chinese restaurant in Nottingham England. A friend at the time was having a surprise anniversary bash for his wife, and I had drove up from London and sat at a large round table, set for five couples, three of which were already there.

We had something in common, all trying to avoid sounding pretentious, admitting that we all liked French wine, and decided to order a couple of bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The absent seats were filled by a couple who made an entrance, fresh in from Tenerife, suntans and blinged out.

A forty-something fella, accompanied by a rather younger provocatively dressed twenty-something blond – we tried to ignore the cliché, but the first thing they did was spin the centerpiece, grab one of the bottles (we had opened to breath), and splash it into their glasses, without a breath downed the wine and declared, to the rest of the table “it aint quite a Rioja but it will have to do”

Now there is Rioja and there’s Rioja – I later discovered.

Haro Wine Festival

Researching for this Lens, I asked my significant other if she had heard of any crazy weird or strange holidays festivals that was going down in June, she replied “yes euro 2012 football/Soccer” – So no then.

My neighbour on the other hand, couldn’t wait to tell me about his home town of Haro in the Rioja wine region. He jumps up, and goes next door, and reappears, grinning shinny eyed, clutching two bottles of wine he had made himself, declaring this is the wine he used to throw about in the Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) I remember most of what he said..

Fiesta del Vino de Haro the 29th of June is penned in on all the calendars of this town, celebrating San Pedro and as usual in a Spanish fiesta it has parades and a battle.

The village parades up to the small chapel with the statue of San Felices led by the mayor on horseback, after placing the city’s flag at the top of the rock, the battle commences all the way back to the Town’s Bullring.

There are windmills, but no Don Quixote, as arms spin around throwing buckets of vino on each other, and some stories are best left unmentioned. When the levels of testosterone and home brew splash about, especially when a quaff of suppressed rivalry rears its head.

This all sounds a bit silly, but watching my neighbour tell his stories with passion and a nostalgic tear, coupled with the fact that I have been to a lot of Spanish fiestas, I would suggest it’s worth a visit.


The wine's not just for throwing!

 Photo with permission from

Time to dry off

This is a file from Wikimedia Commons

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