Haro’s Epic Batalla del Vino

The sun had not been up even an hour as we made our way up a passably steep hillside on the edges of the town of Haro, Spain, with a box of wine in hand and fully dressed in bleach white clothing that didn’t quite protect from the chill of the early morning. Too soon in the day to be sipping this sweet nectar, one might believe, but not on this day. This wine was not a beverage. It was a weapon. And this hillside was to become the scene of an epic battle that had gone on for years.

As we slowly approach the site of the battle, we notice it has already begun so we prepare our weapons and tense just a little, knowing what is to come. I notice my first opponent, ready to advance upon me. I quickly sidestep to the left as he makes his first strike. He misses as the red ammo splashes to my right. But before I have time to reassess my surroundings, another adversary I hadn’t noticed makes a move at me from behind. This one doesn’t miss. The cold liquid rushes down my back and I arch forward from the shock of it. But just as quickly, I turn around, thrust my arm out toward him and return the attack.

The best part of this battle is that, in the end, nobody really loses and throughout the duration, it’s done with smiles stretched across the face and laughter rising from the belly. The Batalla del Vino, or Battle of the Wine, is a once a year festival held every summer on June 29 in the small northern town of Haro in the region of La Rioja. It is an event we read about a long time before we were able to participate. With much anticipation, we finally could attend this summer – and it didn’t disappoint.

Want to find out what happened at the wine fight? Of course you do!