When we saw a flyer for the Buin Fiesta de la Vendimia at our hostel, we corralled a great friend from my childhood, who has lived in Santiago for the past 6 years, and a few of her co-workers into going with us to the 10th Annual Wine Festival. We stayed the night at Haley’s beautiful condo in Santiago and took the bus to an area about 45 minutes outside of the city for the event.
There was wine tasting, plenty of meat on a stick (and cheese on a stick which is a marvelous invention for wine events), local arts/crafts, music and activities. The flyer was decorated with a picture of grape crushing, so we deduced it must be a harvest festival. We didn’t get buy in from the whole group, but Joshua and I were pretty convinced there was going to be grape stomping. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. It was sunny and warm. We arrived early, so we didn’t have to worry about the crowds. We got to taste all our heart’s (and 4 drink tickets) desired.
As we sipped Carmenere (my favorite varietal, so far), we noticed a large crowd gathering at the stage.
We ran over to check it out. As we did, we could make out the emcee using the term “extranjero” which literally means foreigner. As there were no other foreigners in the audience, we were overjoyed to be called to the stage.
He asked us a few questions about ourselves in Spanish. Through the excitement, we did our best to process the questions and answer back to the audience. I always get screwed in those situations–probably couldn’t have answered in English! Where are you from? What are your names?–he couldn’t understand my pronunciation and called me Laudra. What do you think of Chile? Then he asked if we wanted to compete in the wine stomping competition. No sooner were we asked, then we had thrown off our shoes and raced toward the bucket of grapes. Each side of the stage was equipped with a bucket fit for about 1.5 people filled with semi-smashed grapes. We were competing against a Chilean couple. I don’t know anything about them because I was too focused on my own game plan at that point. He told us we could get in the bucket. Luckily, Joshua had worn shorts and I was in my black party dress (the one and only). When we stepped into the bucket he asked what if felt like…all I could say was “cold.”
We strategized and gave each other a kiss for good luck. He picked up on this really quickly and asked about our relationship. I couldn’t remember the word for engaged, thankfully Joshua did and saved the day with “comprometidos.” The audience cheered.
He counted down, and we were off. Joshua was slow to start, but I immediately began crushing as fast as possible. The problem was, we would hit each other as we moved and almost fall out of the bucket. Plus, I was wearing a skirt with my back to the audience…we really had to work as a team. Pretty soon, grapes were flying everywhere and we were laughing hysterically and trying to hold each other up.
Not long after, they told us to stop. We had filled the container so fast, they didn’t know what to do! We won!
They presented us with a certificate of participation and a prize.
Haley took pictures the whole time, looking like a proud mom. She had run over when she heard “California” in an American accent on the loudspeaker and then saw us on the big screen. Joshua and I stepped out of the bucket–I had grapes up to my bellybutton and so did he. Then, of course, like any good showman, the emcee asked us to kiss again. This time, the audience went wild. We posed for photographs for several papers and gave an interview. We washed off our feet and ran back to our group of friends. The rush was incredible. People were cheering as we walked by. Men chanted Joshua’s name when he used the restroom. We celebrated with a glass of champagne and a peak at our prize…a cow hide wine carrier that still smells like cow.
We recounted the afternoon on the bus ride home: absolute perfection. The next morning, we awoke to find a large color photo of us in El Mercurio, Chile’s national paper.
We are the Champions! And it feels so good.