Posts Tagged ‘Local Guides’

Stomping Grapes In Jerez For Vendimia

September 6, 2016
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The Cathedral in Jerez de la Frontera during the official opening of the Vendimia Festival.

The ‘Pisa de la Uva’ or the stomping of the grapes is the most important Vendimia Festival in all of Spain. Xerez may be the city of horses but the name is literally translated as sherry. The wine is amazing and unique; and the city of Jerez has a history with wine unlike any other city in the world.

Let’s recap: sherry = Jerez = Xerez = famously fortified wine.

I met some friends on the steps of the Cathedral in order to witness the Blessing of the Grapes which is the traditional start of harvest events as sanctioned by the City of Jerez.  In fact, on this particular occasion the government became the central story in 2016.  Apparently there were some disgruntled workers that took it upon themselves to protest the mayor during the proceedings.  Loud horns and blaring sirens were directed at the officials conducting the ceremony.

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These guys really know how to clear out a grape harvest festival.

The desired effect was achieved and most of the attention went to former government workers that had the audacity to hold a politician’s feet to the fire over one of her campaign promises of reinstating them.  Flyers littered the ground as tourists and locals alike traversed the steps of the Cathedral to hear the words from the priest.  Anyone within 500 meters of the protesters would easily hear the tumultuous din that they were causing, but none of the audience could even hear a word of the blessing.  The protesters showed the world that they were adamant by not only drowning out the voice of the church, but they also completely distracted what looked to be school aged children performing in the band.

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Vendimia is normally festive.

Spain is a wonderful place full of character.  There is no way to factor that unique aspect of the culture into an event, such as this.  Of course in the front rows that were carefully partitioned ahead of the rabble the gentlemen in suits or women in fine dresses didn’t even peer in the direction of those protesting for their jobs.  Some people had made it a point not to notice what absolutely could not be ignored.  Others were even more prepared and donned their own earplugs.  Many of the local folks simply gave up and resigned themselves to drink fino, amontillado, and oloroso away from the noise.  The tourists like myself were treated to an extra ambiance of Bronx cheers and chants at an otherwise peaceful, yet abbreviated event.

Protests happen all around the world and the complaints of the aggrieved have never agitated this New Yorker to the point that I lose empathy so I pushed on.  My understanding of the festival wasn’t diminished as much as my hearing but it would have been very nice to see how much my Spanish comprehension has improved.  The only chance to listen to anything at all was the eerie silence of the protesters during one, purposefully elongated, Spanish national anthem during which all stood quietly.  I have to admit that the band was pretty good and that the idea of a national anthem without all the problematic and pesky words might be growing one me.

I had no use for the audio in the video above so rest assured that you will be spared and any offensive sound is replaced with a mellow soundtrack.  The last thing that I will write about this event is that the good people of Jerez did have the decency to pour some wine for the masses.  Maybe I’ll see you next year?

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