Top 4 International Wine Festivals

We all know Spain knows how to have a good time. From Ibiza to Barcelona, the Spanish have mastered the craft of raging. Throw in a satchel full of wine and a few thousand people together in Rioja, and you’ve got the Haro Wine Festival. If you plan on going, come dressed in all white, and wake up early. Starting at 7 a.m., the mayor leads a parade of hundreds, all carrying jugs or a bota bag (think leather wine satchel) full of wine. After a ceremonial mass, the wine gets thrown, sprayed, and poured, and doesn’t stop until everyone is covered in the purple stuff. Around noon, the wine revelry dies down and a peace offering is made. In the evening, more wine and tapas appear, and there’s even a bullfight for the young ones to show off their skills. After a day full of drinking, La Rioja offers beautiful scenery to nurse a hangover, so stay a couple days to take it all in.


Every March, Mendoza, Argentina, hosts the ten day Grape Harvest Festival. The celebration dates back to 1936, and has become a national festival, drawing hundreds of thousands every year. Young “queens” chosen from each of the 18 provinces compete for the title of Harvest Queen. The festival begins with a blessing of the grapes, thanking the gods for a good harvest. The first Friday is a celebration of the queens competing for Harvest Queen, called Vía Blanca de las Reinas. Dressed in outfits meant to celebrate the winemaking tradition of their region, this event is known to attract over 200,000 people. Be prepared to deal with crowds of rowdy South Americans! As the week progresses, there are more celebrations, fireworks, and dancers, all culminating into one giant climax called the Acto Central in which the Harvest Queen is crowned.


Stateside, we have our own fair share of wine festivals as well. If your typical (insert city name here) Wine and Food festival isn’t quite doing it for you, look no further. A three day festival that looks more like Bonnaroo than a wine festival, (seriously, look at their posters. Last year they had Pretty Lights and Paul McCartney perform). Outside Lands in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park provides revelers with music, wine, food, and beer. Festival goers can entertain themselves with over 100 different artists performing and 35 different wines. Couple that with the amazing local cuisine by over forty eateries, and you’ve got one hell of a good time. As if this could get any better, Outside Lands is one of the most environmentally sustainable music festivals in the world. Do good while partying? Count me in.


The East Coast version of Outside Lands is GoogaMooga (and yes, we think that’s a ridiculous name, too). For the East Coast WASPS that won’t can’t go out west, Brooklyn’s festival is a three day event complete with bands, food, and of course the necessary booze. Still in its infancy, 2014 will mark its third reincarnation, but if 2013 was any indication of what’s to come—over 100 wines available for taste or full glass, along with performances by bands such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and food from over 85 local restaurants and eateries—we should be in for a treat.


Even with all these awesome wine festivals available (and we just scratched the surface), we’re sure there are a few of you out there saying “so what? I can just sit on my couch at home and polish off a bottle of Pinot while watching the Kardashians and be just fine.” Well, you could, but you could also drink the same wine every day, eat the same plain bagel, watch the same nonsensical reality TV—but what happens when you’re in bed, at the edge of your dreams and your subconscious reaches back for meaning, for experiences to make it all seem worthwhile, and all you have are flashes of Kim and Kanye, Scott Disick’s pathetic beard? Isn’t it time to make a deposit in your awesomeness bank?

**For the ballers on a budget, both of the US festivals accept volunteers who work in return for free tickets.

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