Every year, the small town of Haro, one of the biggest wine producers in Spain, hosts the traditional Batalla del Vino or the Wine Battle, where participants throw tons of red wine at each other. The fiesta commences early in the morning, at 7 am, with the town mayor parading through the town, on horseback with a banne and places it on the summit of the mountain. The procession of people old and young, dressed in white clothes, wearing red scarves and are carrying jugs, bottles or whatever that can be filled with wine, follows him on foot through the nearby Mountains of Bilibio, all the way to a small chapel of San Felices.
As soon as the mass ends, the wine battle begins. Some people pour buckets of red wine on each other, other sprinkle it from water guns, or throw bags filled with wine. Its really up to the participants what kind of weapons they choose to bring to the Haro Wine Battle, as long as they dont cause injuries and are full of wine. After a few hours of bathing in wine, the whole mountain smells like a regular wine cellar, and everyones clothes go from white to purple. Its estimated over 50,000 liters of wine are used every year, during this unique event.
The wine battle originates from a dispute between Haro and neighbouring town Miranda De Ebro regarding who owned the mountains between them. Nobody knows who was the first to throw wine at their rival, but now locals from the entire region along with a handful of tourists come together in friendship instead of feud to celebrate, drink, dance, and last but not least, soak each other to the bone in red wine! Most of the locals weapon of choice is a bottle of wine, but those going for accuracy carry water pistols while those going for sheer volume carry buckets! When the once-white t-shirts have turned sufficiently pink, the drenched participants gather round bonfires to dry-off while eating tapas and drinking delicious Rioja wine.
One of the best things about the wine battle is that, for now, it remains a local affair. Tourists in Haro are still a novelty who are welcomed into the celebration with open arms. Its only a matter of time before the festival booms in popularity like other Spanish festivals, but for now the wine battle is a unique and authentic taste of Spanish culture.