Argentina may be best known for its beef and tango, but few realize the quality of the country's unique wine. Grapes flourish here in Argentina's central valley, east of the Andes in the Mendoza region. Sixty percent of Argentina's exported wine comes from Mendoza. The crop has struggled in French vineyards, but due to a perfect combination of growing conditions like high altitude, strong sunlight and protection from the Andes, grapes are happy in Argentina. Mendoza's backdrop is spectacular with snow-covered Andes looming high against the horizon. The area is popular with outdoor enthusiasts for climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and rafting. Mendoza is normally a relatively laid-back town, especially when compared to Buenos Aires (its bustling capital city). The streets are wide and traveled by vintage European cars and bicycles and large, shady trees overhang the city's sidewalks and cafes. It really is too bad that the cities of Argentina have not been cared for properly, and the infrastructure updated, so that they would be a tourists destination spot.
The start of the Vendimia week (the grape harvest celebration) we have seen many venues going on. The last Saturday of the month of February is the blessing of the crop at the local Cathedral. Then the party begins. Above is a picture of a seadoo race on the little lake we have close to our home. I don't know if the city only has three seadoos but it is the first time in 3 years I have heard the roar of a motor craft engine. It was music to the ears. The first vendimia celebration in Mendoza Province was back in the 17th century, but the first official festival became in 1936. All week down our street (Avenida Emilio Civit) there are tents set up for the wine tasting ($1 a glass) and other ethnic foods, and local crafts. Next Friday night around 11:00 they will start the parade of floats being moved from their position in the park San Martin, to the beginning of the parade (also on our street). We probably won't sleep much that night. Saturday will be the 6 hour parade with floats, horses, authentic gauchos, beauty queens, and dancers representing various provinces of Argentina and other Latin American Countries. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights will be a special extravaganza in the Greek Theatre in the San Martin Park. We actually have never been, since it starts at about 10:30 and goes till 2:00 am.
Last night was the official opening, with choirs and presentations in the Plaza Indepedencia. The whole month there have been tango demonstrations, orchestra and choir presentations. The fireworks display is larger and longer than any I have ever seen in the states. It went on full throttle for at least 20 minutes, with not a second of interruptions. Below is a short video taken about in the middle of the demonstration.