Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Grape Harvest Festival of Sitges

If there are two things from the area where we live which are famous on the international level, they must be the idyllic beach resort Sitges, on the one hand, and the D.O. Penedès wines, on the other. They attract different kinds of tourists, but at least once a year they converge: the verema - the grape harvest festival - of Sitges.

In quantity, the coastal comarca Garraf certainly cannot compete with the wine production of the lush Penedès inlands, but especially the town Sant Pere de Ribes is surrounded by vineyards. In neighbouring Sitges, the tradition to celebrate the grape harvest during the third weekend of September is well established – this year saw the 48th edition - and adds yet another element in its hectic festive month between the main Festa Major of Sant Bartomeu, August 24, and the little Festa Major of Santa Tecla, September 23.

The focus of the verema is, in fact, to select the pubilla ('heiress') of the town and all social entities have the right to present a candidate, a girl between 16 and 22 years old. Apparently, it is knowledge about Sitges rather than beauty which determines who will be the winner.

The highlight of the festivity takes place on the Sunday afternoon – when the social entities challenge each other in a spectacular wine treading competition (concurs de trepitjadors de raïm). As soon as the judges have established which team is the winner – in 2009 the folk dancers from l'Associació de Balls Populars won with 22,5 litres – it is time for the pubilla to have her weight measured. This year, Ariadna Olimpia Font, from the Casino Prado, brought home 50 bottles.

For me, la Verema de Sitges was yet another occasion when I felt grateful for having moved to Catalonia. Next year I will bring the family and I will make sure to arrive before the scheduled start of the wine treading - the competition is much shorter than I had expected.

- - - and Vilanova Digital were my main sources for this text.

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Costa Daurada, Festa Major, Penedès, Sitges

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