Since the Spanish conquerors brought the first grapevines to Peru, which prospered because of the favorable climate along the southern coast, a significant wine industry developed in the region. Today cultivating grapes and producing wine and Peru’s famous Pisco plays an important role in Peru, especially in the southern cities of Ica and Pisco.
Festival de la Vendimia in Ica
Each year in March, usually around the second week of the month, Ica celebrates the grape harvest with the Festival Internacional de la Vendimia (International Festival of the Grape Harvest) giving thanks to the fertile lands that allowed a rich and successful grape harvest while keeping the culture and history of wine and Pisco making in the country alive.
The festival kicks off with the traditional grape stomping (la pisa de uvas) and a huge, colorful parade through town. There are wine and Pisco making contests and fairs, tastings - less wine, but more Pisco, Mistela (a fortified grape must) and Chachina (a partly fermented grape must) - lots of dancing in traditional costumes and local music, dance competitions, gastronomic fairs with lots of amazing local dishes, extreme sports competitions (held at Huacachina), Peruvian Paso horse shows and art and craft fairs; and of course, a Harvest Queen, La Reina de la Vendimia, is elected.
During the 10-day festival special guided tours to wineries in the region are offered which open their doors to local visitors and tourists, inviting them to learn more about the pisco and wine-making process and of course to taste the final product.
Festival de la Vendimia in Lima’s district Surco
Even though today hardly conceivable, in colonial and early republican times part of what today is the district of Surco in Lima was a wine-growing area. Left from these times are a handful of local wineries, a lovely bronze and clay wine making scene at the entrance of Surco’s center and lots of small traditional wine bars and eateries around Surco’s main square.
To keep this part of Surco’s history and tradition alive, the district celebrates its own Grape Harvest Festival, usually in the second half of March.
Like in Ica, the festival starts with the Grand Parade of the Grape Harvest (Gran Corso de la Vendimia) introducing the wine queen candidates to the public; expect a delightful mix of folkloric dance and music groups, colorfully decorated floats sponsored by local businesses and a little of "self-promotion" of the municipality. In the evening, there are big fireworks.
During the actual 4-day celebration of the Festival de la Vendimia in Surco which takes place at and around Surco’s main square a wine queen is elected and the coming days are filled with many activities around wine such as the traditional grape stomping, wine and Pisco tastings, presentations on the traditional way of wine and Pisco making and an exhibition of established wineries. Traditional Peruvian dance shows and a great music program with concerts of national and international artists complete the spectacle.
Restaurants and food vendors take part in a lovely gastronomic fair providing sustenance. Visitors can try typical local creole dishes like Desayuno Surcano (Surco breakfast including chicharron, fried camote, tamales), Sopa Seca Surcana (a special chicken soup), Huatía Surcana or Sulcana (a flavorful beef stew traditional to Surco), Anticuchos, snacks and sweets.