Haro, a pittoresque place in the Rioja region, is one of the most important wine producers in the region. Up to 40% of the Rioja wine yards are located there and the town is totally devoted to the producing of the best Rioja wine, since wine is vital to the town’s economy.
So every year on the 29th of June, the locals of Haro celebrate San Pedro with their own Haro Wine Festival. This Wine Festival has now become one of the most important and well-visited fesitvals in Spain, mainly because of the Wine Fight (Batella de Vino), which is organized during the festival.
The start of the Wine Festival finds itself in the 13th century, when the Haro had to officially mark the property lines between them and their neighbours in Miranda de Ebro. This had to be done every year at Saint Peter’s Day as well as every first Sunday of September, or else Haro would become a part of Miranda de Ebro. 400 years later, the observation broke down and people started throwing wine at eachother. That day the tradition started and and earned the name “War of Wine”, which in 1965 was changed into Battle of the Wine -or Batalla del Vino en Haro as the locals call it-.
While the mass and feast still takes place and is regarded as a huge part of the town’s history, the main attraction these days is the pouring of wine on each other and into eachothers mouths.
Nowadays everyone is supposed to be clothed in white shirts with a red scarf. Once everyone has arrived, the city banner is being put on the highest rock, which shows the beginning of a religious mass. In the morning the Wine Battle happens. The crowd is divided into two groups on opposing sides. All weapons are allowed during this outrageous battle: buckets, wineskin, sprayers and anything else that can be used to hurl, spray or launch thousands of liters of wine all over the crowd.
After battling for some hours, the actual Haro Wine Fight starts. Around midday everyone heads back to Plaza de la Paz, where the celebration continues with lots of food, drinks and people. Later in the evening the bullsfights take place in the town’s bull ring. The bulls used are actually smaller female heifers known as “vaquillas”, which much less dangerous than male bulls and are used to entertain the general public.During the sixth century, the rocks around the mountain where the Wine Fight is held was home to a hermit monk. He later became the patron saint of the town of Haro. Today, the locals of Haro celebrate San Pedro on this day at the end of June.