During this time, thousands of kilos of ripe golden grapes are taken patiently from the generous vines, across the dry albariza soils to the collection trucks and finally to the pressing plants. It's an immense, iconic and necessary effort that keeps the Sherry engine roaring year after year and that in Jerez is followed by two more weeks of... festivities!
Las fiestas de la Vendimia (the harvest festival) is a particularly unique and meaningful series of celebrations that the city of Jerez welcomes with special enthusiasm every year. Taking place from early until mid September, these celebrations commemorate the continuation of an industry that has shaped the economy, the architecture, the urban planning, the social composition, the landscape, the gastronomy and the identity of the Sherry capital.
Most people in Jerez have developed a sense of ownership towards Sherry. This is the result of a diversity of personal approaches and experiences related to this specific type of local wine that shares its name with the city itself; a fact that already reveals the connection of the territory and its people to it.
The harvest festival brings all these people together through a programme of culture activities including music performances, exhibitions, horse shows, talks, tastings, guided tours and grape picking workshops for kids amongst many others.
All these activities connect different representative aspects of the city of Jerez with its wine and they offer an amazing opportunity both for locals and visitors to experience the many wonders that the city has to offer.
Amongst the extensive list of events scheduled each year for the harvest festival, there are three that have gained a special recognition throughout the years because of different reasons.
The first one is a special set of flamenco shows known as "Fiesta de la Bulería". This year's Fiesta de la Bulería has a new format and will last for three days instead of one as was usual before. Each day, a different approach to this specific type of flamenco form will be offered. The first day will showcase young emerging talents; the second will have performers from Jerez and from the nearby towns of Lebrija, Utrera and Mairena, also renown for their respective flamenco scenes and on the third day, selected performers will pay a special hommage to Lola Flores, a legendary flamenco dancer and singer from Jerez.
The second is the so-called "Pisa de la uva" (the grape stomp) and it takes place outside the door of Jerez cathedral. It's a colorful and traditional event that represents the arrival of the grapes to the pressing plants and the extraction of the first must of the year which is later blessed by the bishop of Jerez.
The third offers visitors the possibility to taste the finest sherries at very affordable prices and in a beautiful setting: the cloister of a former Domenican monastery. Known as "de copa en copa" (from glass to glass), this event features stalls from numerous different bodegas and attendees can sip their way along their preferred ones and pair their sherries of choice with gourmet produce from the province of Cádiz.
If you're planning to visit Jerez with the objective of experiencing its fascinating culture, people, traditions, and wines... do it during the harvest festival!
This year's "Fiestas de la Vendimia" will start on the 1st of September and will finish on the 16th. The "Fiesta de la Bulería" will take place on the 1st, the 2nd and 3rd of September; the "Pisa de la Uva" on the 6th and "de Copa en Copa" on the 8th, 9th and 10th of September. You can download the full programme here.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of El Consejo Regulador.
31 August 2016