Spain’s biggest Wine Fight

Taking a well deserved pause from the wine fight Credit: Haro Council

In the same way that La Tomatina in Bunol sees a huge tomato fight, and India has the Holi paint festival, there are a number of wine fights in Spain.

According to the Bergers of Haro, the town which calls itself the Capital of Rioja, the biggest and best wine fight in Spain takes place there on the Feast of San Pedro, which falls on June 29 each year.

Visit the Haro Wine Fight

In actual fact, the Wine Fight (Batalla Del Vino De Haros) is part of the Haro Wine Festival which takes place from June 28 to 30.

There seem to be a number of different explanations as to why the otherwise sensible people of the town, work themselves up into a frenzy and douse each other in no less than 130,000 litres of wine.

One legend suggests that during a pilgrimage to the hermitage of Los Riscos de Bilibio on June 29 centuries ago, a villager decided to refresh a travelling companion by pouring wine that he had carried in his boots all over him

Another suggests that it dates back to an alleged legal dispute with the nearby town of Miranda de Ebro over the ownership of some cliffs and after a mass, a peaceful if somewhat wet battle erupted.

Another version suggests that the tradition dates back to the 6th Century although it doesn’t explain why and whilst the truth is shrouded in the mists of time, the fact is that it happens every year and both local and visitors love it.

Shrouded in the midst of time

Mainly dressed in white but with a red scarf, those taking part gather in the early morning to  follow their mayor who is on horseback on a seven kilometre pilgrimage to the cliffs of Bilibio, and  the Hermitage of San Felices.

Following a short mass ‘all hell breaks loose’ as those taking part queue up to collect the wine which has been transported there for them and they use buckets, water guns, jugs and indeed any spare container to drench each other in red wine.

No fair is complete without some music
Credit: Haro Council

For those who enjoy a fine example of the vintners art, don’t worry because the bulk of the wine would actually have been turned into vinegar and it is mainly supplied by the participants although the Haro Council donates a few thousand litres.

Stops for lunch and a drink

All the fighting builds up a hunger and about midday, everyone slips and slides back to the Plaza de la Paz, where the celebration continues with lots of food and some decent wine as well as other drinks.

In the evening, there is a bullfight with a difference as it involves heifers rather than bulls who chase anyone brave (or drunk) enough to get into the bullring but the good news is that no animals, including humans, are killed.

The kids are alright

It seemed a shame to leave the children out of all of these escapades so in 2004 a children’s wine battle was introduced and a few days before the Festival, containers full of red liquid are distributed to the children.

They go on a short pilgrimage to the local fairground where, after making an offer to the patron saint, their wine battle takes place followed by lunch.

The kid’s have their own ‘wine fight’ a few days earlier
Credit: Haro Council

Haro is yet another Spanish town which enjoys its heritage and is known throughout the region as a producer of some top quality red wine.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page