San Mateo: the festival of the grape harvest

21 September is the feast day of San Mateo or Saint Matthew.

But for winemakers and wine lovers in Spain it’s also known as the fiesta de la vendimia or grape harvest.

September in Spain is traditionally the month when grapes get harvested and you’ll come across lots of regional fiestas celebrating the event.

One of the largest takes place in Logroño, capital of La Rioja.

The origin dates back to the twelfth century, when King Alfonso VIII granted the town of Logroño the right to hold an annual celebration.

Given the importance of wine to the Riojan economy, the town decided to hold the celebration in September to coincide with the start of harvest time.

After lots of chopping and changing, the date was finally fixed as 21 September, the feast day of San Mateo (who curiously was actually a tax collector!)

Since the 1950s, it’s been known as the Fiesta de la Vendimia.

In Logroño, celebrations kick off with the first grapes being crushed by foot and the grape juice being given as an offering to San Mateo.

So why not raise your own glass to San Mateo on the 21st September - after all, any excuse is a good one.

Cheers!