We all know people who plan their holidays around sporting events, like the FIFA Football World Cup. Others match their leave dates with music festivals, such as Glastonbury and Coachella. Then, there is another group, the wine lovers; where holidays always seem to conveniently take place in wine producing regions and coincide with grape festivals.
If, like us, you fall into the latter category, here is a selection of the world’s best wine festivals to mark in your holiday diary and ignite your wine wanderlust:
Mendoza Grape Harvest Festival, Argentina
March 1st – 10th 2015
Arguably South America’s premier wine festival, the Argentineans have been celebrating the new harvest in style since 1936. Part celebration, part ritual, part carnival; expect dazzling parades, grape blessings from patron saints, the election of a Harvest Queen, and, of course, overflowing glasses of deliciously rich Malbec!
14th March – June 8th 2015
The last few years have seen an incredible increase in the global popularity of Italy’s favourite sparkling wine, Prosecco. It doesn’t hurt that the Prosecco route leading out from Venice is one of the most spectacular wine trails in the world. So why not partake in the Prosecco spring, a series of wine shows held in 15 of the regions prettiest villages, along with tastings, concerts and numerous outdoor activities?
Marathon du Médoc, Bordeaux, France
September 12th, 2015
There are a plethora of Northern Hemisphere wine events come September to coincide with harvest, but none quite like the Marathon du Médoc. I know, I’ve just dropped the dreaded ‘m’ word, but this is a marathon with a twist. The course winds through some of the world’s most prestigious vineyards and a selection of local refreshments, from wine to oysters are served along the way! Held annually since 1985, most of the entrants partake in fancy dress. We’re not as sure how many the 9,000 runners who start actually make it to the finishing line, however.
Festa della Filoxera, Sant Sadurni, Spain
September 7th, 2015
A contender for the title of strangest wine festival in the world, the villagers of Sant Sadurni, in the heart of the Penedès wine region not far from Barcelona, are delighted that they beat the phylloxera louse that ravaged vineyards around the globe in the 19th century. So delighted, in fact, that they celebrate its defeat every year by parading brightly coloured statues in the form of the louse through the village, accompanied by fireworks, music and general merriment!
September 11th – 15th & 18th – 21st, 2015
The self-proclaimed world’s biggest wine festival, Wurstmarkt held in Bad Dürkheim, just south of Frankfurt, for nearly 600 years. With over 300 wines on offer, there’s no better place to grab yourself a glass of Riesling or Spätburgunder, and soak it all up with another German specialty, the sausage; keen linguists amongst you may have already spotted that Wurstmarkt in fact translates as sausage market!
19th November, 2015
Here’s one you can celebrate wherever in the world you happen to be on the third Thursday in November. The jury may be out on this fruity red wine made from Gamay that is bottled only a couple of months after harvest, but there’s no denying that each new release has become a global phenomenon and an event celebrated by wine lovers from Sydney to San Francisco.
Have you got any favourite wine festivals to add?
Image credits Lorenzo Benetton, Jan and Lindsey Turner
Chrissie McClatchie is an Australian freelance writer and wine specialist who has been living in France since 2008. You can follow her on Twitter @RivieraGrape as she explores the wines of the French Riviera and Italy's Liguria.