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WINE BATTLE IN HARO, LA RIOJA

Every year on June 29th, the town of Haro, in the heart of La Rioja is the site of a major battle. Hundreds of Spaniards celebrate by soaking each other with wine, using any means possible.
Squirt guns, sprayers, boxed wine and bottles are used to wet everyone within range.

Early in the morning people head out of town, on foot or by car through the vineyards and up the side of a mountain to San Felices. They make the hike up the mountain, and celebrate mass for their city's patron saint. Most dress in white from head to toe, and tie the traditional red handkerchiefs around their necks. They carry wine - in bottles, bota bags, boxes, squirt guns and even sprayers with backpacks. The mass ends and the battle begins in the hills and on the road back down to town. As everyone returns to town, they circle the main plaza while bands play typical music.

Lots of visitors park in the vineyards outside of town, and walk the rest of the way. So many cars try to park in the fields that the police direct traffic. Even walking the road through the vineyards is fair game for being squirted with wine.

Recommendations - If You're Going...

If you are going to attend the Battle, we have the following suggestions:

Dress in White - Like the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans." In this case, that means you should dress in white, at least in an old white t-shirt. If you don't, you'll stand out like a sore thumb and become more of a target.
Bring a Change of Clothing - No matter what, you'll get wet, so bring a change of clothing because it is brisk in the morning when your clothing is soaking wet. That means a change of shoes and socks, too!

Bring a Towel - Bring an old towel, so you can at least dry your hands and face.

Come Armed - Be sure to bring a large squirt gun or bota (wine skin) filled with red wine. If you don't, you'll feel frustrated after being squirted a few times with wine, and wish you could "squirt back.”

Bring Large Trash Bags - Trash bags? Yes! You'll need them! Many people cover their car's front bucket seats with large trash bags because they don't change their clothes until they get back into town. Trust us, you don't want to sit on the seats, rental or not, in wine-soaked clothing. Cover the seats in plastic and bring an extra bag for your wet clothes.

JEREZ HORSE FAIR

Spain's world famous sherry producing town, Jerez de la Frontera, plays host to the most prestigious equine heritage event in the whole of Europe, the 'feria del caballo'.

The annual horse fair began as a livestock show in 1284 and is now a magnet for horse lovers. It attracts many thousands of visitors each year who come not just to witness, but to participate in one of the biggest street parties in Spain.

The opening of the feria is an official event initiated by the Mayor of Jerez. As the crowd gathers at dusk, they are treated to a spectacular massive firework display which is followed by the big switch on of the impressive feria lights.

Usually the mornings host all kinds of horse related activities such as high school dressage, carriage competitons, accoso y arriba, international show-jumping competitions, vaulting, select livestock exhibitions and auctions. However, the highlight of the Jerez Horse Fair is undoubtedly the "Como Bailan los Caballos Andaluces " or the 'Dancing Andalusian Horses' performed by the world famous Royal Equestrian School of Art

From lunchtime onwards, the González de Hontoria park begins to fill with beautifully decorated carriages that parade the show ground. Everyone gets involved and both horse and riders are dressed a la Andaluz, a spectacle well worth seeing.

The 'casetas' are structures that range from small tents to large pavilions, from plain to elaborate, serving up food that ranges from the simplest tapas to full-scale restaurant fare, and drinks (lots of sherry of course). Many of the casitas are sponsored by various groups of families, local businesses, bodegas, clubs, trade unions and political parties. Each tent is decorated with its own theme and most of them compete for the 1st prize award. The municipal caseta is usually the largest and offers a fantastic programme of free entertainment.

People eat, drink and dance sevillanas, rumbas, bulerias and other traditional dances in one of the beautifully decorated casitas (small bars) until the early hours of the morning with an incredible, enjoyable atmosphere that seems to transform the park into one big flamenco fiesta.

A busy street market open day and night, a huge funfair which attracts both adults and children, bullfights, sevillana dance competitions and more fireworks are other festive activities that complete the programme of the Fair.

A trip to 'The annual Jerez Horse Fair' should certainly be on the agenda not only of all horse lovers but also for anyone who wants to sample a taste of rural Spain at its very best. Organising ferias is one thing that the Spanish, and the Andalusians in particular excel at and the Feria de Caballo de Jerez is certainly no exception.

An 80Th PARTY IN COMPETA HELD AS A WAKE

When friend and fellow Cómpeta dweller Eileen Bush invited my wife and I to her wake we were somewhat taken aback but not really surprised. She went on to explain that her 80th birthday was approaching, but rather than celebrating it she was going to hold and attend her own wake.

Eileen had been making her will and funeral arrangements when the idea came to her. We laughed, put the date in our diary and looked forward to it. Eileen is one of those people who laughs in the face of adversity and can often be seen walking to her villa on the edge of the town slowly but steadily, walking-stick in hand despite being in pain from her knees, back, in fact it would probably be quicker to list the problems she does not have! Eileen would be the first to admit that she has seen the interior of hospitals far more then she would have liked.

The first that I was aware that the local press had latched onto the story was when I saw Eileen's husband Michael and his Daughter Judy on the day of the party. They told me that they were on their way to buy some Spanish newspapers as Eileen was on the cover. I asked which and they said Malaga Hoy and Sur. Sure enough I looked on the Malaga Hoy website and there was Eileen smiling as usual.

I read the article and was somewhat taken aback to learn that amongst other jobs and owning a boutique Eileen had worked at the Hard Rock Café. Somehow I could not see her wearing a t-shirt and cap but I thought, you can't judge a book by it's cover.

That evening we entered the location of the wake, the Hotel Balcon, unusually for us we were early. The Balcon is one of Eileen's favourite places in the town and, like many of us, where she and Michael stayed when they first came to Cómpeta.

We walked down the steps to the ballroom to be greeted by a bevy of reporters and photographers. One, clutching a microphone asked if we would not mind re-entering the ballroom once there were a few more people so that we could be filmed. We approached a board displaying a seating plan. The tables were all named after significant places in which Eileen had lived such as Brighton, Liskeard, Dunstable and of course Cómpeta where Eileen had placed herself (later explaining that her present place of residence is where she has been happiest). So after our cue to walk back in again we did so saying “rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb” and trying hard not to laugh as we walked towards the camera following strict instructions not to look at it.

After a drink at the bar we all sat down at our tables; Eileen was nowhere to be seen. A humanist minister then called us to order and asked that the reporters and cameras move towards the back of the hall and then gave a eulogy about Eileen detailing her life and achievements one of which was a much enjoyed career working at Harrods, not as Malaga Hoy had reported the Hard Rock Café. I should have known something was amiss when the same article stated that the entertainment that night was to be provided by Darry Marx. I knew this was wrong as Eileen had chosen neighbour and local crooner Barry Marx to sing at the wake.

At the end of the eulogy we were asked to stand to toast Eileen; as we stood a curtain was thrown aside and there was Eileen standing in front of an open coffin proclaiming “I'm not dead!” before thanking her friends and family for coming.

The evening proceeded with the meal; it was very disconcerting eating my tropical fruit cocktail with a TV camera pointing at me. This is what it must be like being famous I pondered, before pondering some more about the cash and glamorous lifestyle and deciding that, sod it I would happily be filmed eating my dinner in return for that.

An early request from Eileen was Sinatra's 'My Way' and Barry (Darry) gave a fine rendition. A few of decided that 'Come on Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners would be a good and somewhat appropriate party song, so I connected to the hotel's WIFI with my phone and found the song on Spotify. We plugged into Barry's sound system and soon Eileen and many guests were on the dance floor singing and dancing to the 80s classic song.

By the time the main courses were being served the press had drifted away their story secure and ready to be published. Eileen confessed she had been surprised by all the media attention and had found it all a bit overwhelming. It was a fun night and not in the slightest bit morbid, so thanks to Eileen and her family for making it so.

A video on the El Mundo web site is just one of many reports of the party on the internet. http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2013/02/10/andalucia_malaga/1360489939.html

I can be seen with my wife and a friend looking at the seating plan near the beginning of the video. No we were not acting and if it looks like I have a bald patch on the back of my head I can assure you it is just a trick of the light.

Latter news of the story has spread to the UK with an item in the Daily Mirror newspaper and an exclusive in a magazine. I am just pleased to say that I knew the famous Eileen before her wake!

About Us

www.thegrapevine.es is the website for The Grapevine Magazine which started in May 2006 as a 16 page inland publication to initially cover the 3 villages of Competa, Canillas, and Archez. The concept of the magazine was developed by Steve and Helen Twiselton.

 

In 2006 there were little if any publications distributed inland and the only way to know of services available were looking at notice boards and talking to locals. With this in mind The Grapevine Magazine was set up to provide information on the area and a medium for both Spanish and English businesses to advertise their services professionally.

 

The Grapevine was immediately a success and distribution increased from 1,500 in the early days to over 7,000 copies currently. The increase in copies also reflects the widened distribution area. The success of The Grapevine Magazine meant coverage increased from the initial 3 villages to covering the coast and all inland villages between Torre del Mar and Nerja and as far reaching inland to Perian and Alcaucin. The Magazine also increased in the number of pages reaching 96 pages and is now a full colour glossy A5 publication.

 

The Grapevine Magazine distributes the highest volume of magazines inland and prides itself on original local content. Each month a unique and relevant magazine is produced which is out on the first of the month, every month. This fresh approach is partly due to our regular contributors, writers, relationships developed with Town Halls and local businesses and of course our hard work!

 

The magazine is also available to read on line, an initiative The Grapevine magazine invested in months before our competitors. This allows readership from all over the world and allows holiday makers to see what is going on in the area before they arrive or for holiday home owners to book services before they arrive in Spain.

 

The Grapevine Magazine website was also described in the British Airways in-flight magazine as a great source of information for the area. It receives over 100,000 hits a month and has over 800 pages listed with google.

www.thegrapevine.es has recently been revamped we hope you like the changes.

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