Tuesday, August 16, 2011

La Primera Fiesta de Vendimia

A good friend took this picture when he first arrived Saturday night.  He sent it to us the next day.  This is what he wrote:

Congratulations on your first vendimia.
Here you can see two snowbirds, one summer bird and four local fledglings....

What a wonderful start to a beautiful experience!  Thanks, Ernesto!
However, before the festivities began, there were hours of preparation!
Season meat.  Peel and chop vegetables.  Decorate carriage.  Peel and chop more vegetables.  Stop just a moment for photo op. 
Wash dishes.  Peel and chop a mountain of jicama.  Fill wine barrel.  Make sauce.  Peel and chop more vegetables. 
Decorate.  Decorate.  Decorate.  Fill baskets with grapes for centerpieces.  Climb a tree.  Hang the sign.  Roast the lamb.
Additionally:  Make pesto.  Prepare pasta.  Make salad.  And a long, long, list of other tasks, ending with:  Appear at the party, all dolled up, looking as if someone else had done everything.  
My  thanks and appreciation to
who worked to make the fiesta happen. 
Tables were arranged on the south side of the pool under the trees at Jardin Botanico.  Across the pool, the stage was set for the evening's entertainment. 
As people arrived, Pablo began his performance.  Lovely music.  Quiet.  Just right!
Eduardo began his welcome, and who should arrive?  Baco and the Festival Queen.  She gave a very sweet, short talk about the Grape/Wine Festival of Parras, thanking us for our participation and welcoming the guests.  It was easy to see why she was elected queen.
 Performers began appearing on the stage area.  First las vendimiadoras, then the drummers and last of all Las Pudencianas.  And here, we need a brief explanation.  One of Eduardo's great-grandmothers was named Pudenciana.  He thought it interesting that no one in the family had given that name to any of the girl children in spite of the fact that other great-grandmothers had seen their names passed to many daughters, granddaughters, and now great-granddaughters.  He decided to rescue the name and give it to his winery making all his daughters and nieces Las Pudencianas.  He thinks it is very clever and girls are sweet enough to go along with it.
Baco raised his glass, grapes were poured into the stomping barrel and Las Pudencianas began the process of making wine.  They took turns - two at a time - and ended the crush with all four of them dancing inside the barrel in a tight circle. 
Just in case you think there is something a bit phony about this, I submit the photo above as proof.  The fourth girl had already gone inside to wash her feet.
 Las vendimiadoras, and Las Pudencianas were quickly replaced with an indigenous dancing group.  These are not the matachines who are usually sponsored by a Catholic parish.  I am still not sure exactly how they differ, but I will let you know when I get it figured out.  Meanwhile, I can report that the dancing was energetic, mystic, and complete with incense and conch shells.
This little dancer almost stole the show.  What a cutie!
As the dancers moved away from the stage, Pablo began a slow, soft waltz.  You might know we couldn't resist being part of the show.  Dancing around the pool on uneven tile was quite a challenge for me.  It was the first time I had danced in public since my back surgery, but I only fell out of step once and I even managed a turn!

Dinner was served.  It was delicious!  Wine bottles were emptied.  Wine bottles were filled.  Jokes were told.  Stories related.  Grape harvests exaggerated.  Everybody had a good time.

We had so much fun with Baco.  Is this a job or what?
As the night wore on, I'm afraid some of my pictures got a little fuzzy, but of the 70 guests, I managed to capture a few.   What a fabulous group!
Oh, my friend Eduardo.  Without you and your enthusiasm for all things fun, this would not have happened.  We thank you for the experience; it was wonderful!  Now . . . put some net over your vines so we have more wine to share next year!  We can't allow the birds to feast on those good grapes any longer!

And for all of you who were not here, remember the Grape/Wine Festival is held every year at this time.  I can promise you a wonderful experience!  Make your plans now to come down next August!