March is a time for dusting out closets and heralding the first glimpses of spring sunshine. In Peru, it’s the time of the annual grape harvest. Every year, the southern Peruvian city of Ica hosts the traditional International Vintage Festival (Fiesta de la Vendimia), celebrating an important agricultural gem, the grapevine. The abundance of grapes in Ica is especially celebratory because the greenery of local vineyards stretches across hundreds of acres of once desolate desert. The first vines were brought by the Spanish centuries ago and has turned a bone-dry desert into fertile land. The whole city participates in the festivities along with an estimated 200,000 tourists who flock to Ica for the majestic celebration.
The Vintage Festival is kicked off with a colorful parade, where folk dancers and traditional music invigorate the merriment. During the parade, the people of Ica crown their Queen of the Vintage Festival. The Queen will then ceremoniously tread through a grape-filled vat to extract the sweet juice, which will eventually be fermented into either wine or pisco. Pisco is a clear distilled grape brandy made from the quebranta grapes grown in the fertile Ica valley. To partake in the festivities at your home, try serving up the national drink of Peru, the
Pisco Sour (see recipe in our Fiestas Patrias blog). Made from simple sugar syrup, lime juice, pisco and frothy egg whites, the tangy Pisco Sour is sure to brighten any day.
During the week-long Vintage Festival, the streets of Ica are filled with fairs, floats, competitions and mouth-watering local sweets. Tejas, a delicious confection made from pecans or candied fruits, filled with caramel and then coated with sugary icing, are a traditional favorite during this time. Locals are also known to host parties where guests dance the traditional Afro-Peruvian festejo, which celebrates Peruvian Independence. Although the celebration formally ends March 15th, these festive vines will continue to inspire remarkable pieces such as our Vendage Cardigan and Grapevine Skirt, as well as out Tendrils Pima T-Shirt.