It’s April and fall has arrived in Chile, and with it comes Harvest Time!
I remember my first grape harvest as if it were yesterday. It was 18 years ago in the Maule Valley—at Viña Tabontinaja, to be exact, 20 km from San Javier. I was with some friends from abroad who were dying to stomp some grapes. They were so excited that I thought it was going to be some kind of cosmic experience, but no. All they really wanted was to feel how the grapes broke beneath their feet. And so, just out of curiosity rolled up my pant legs and joined them in those moments of euphoria. Without even realizing it, I was transported back to my childhood in Chiloé when we would help my grandfather make chicha (similar to hard cider) by stomping the apples for him.
If you would like to join in some of the many rural harvest activities going on this time of year, I recommend you visit Nirivilo, Villa Alegre, San Javier, or any of the other small towns in the interior of the Maule Region, where you’re sure to see these authentic practices that take place every year in March and April.
Today many wineries now offer harvest activities in their tourism experiences—perhaps not as vertiginous as my grape stomping with my fortunate friends, but you can definitely pick grapes or make blends and feel like a winemaker for a day.
I invite you to participate in one of the many entertaining Harvest Fests that take place in Chile’s different wine valleys throughout the months of March and April.
White grape harvest: last week of February through mid-March.
Red grape harvest: mid-March through late April or early May.