For the Piemontese, September means more than colorful trees and the return to school. September is synonymous with vendemmia, or the grape harvest, and its brilliant reds, golds, and purples of vineyards and ripened grapes. As with all important life moments, it's celebrated with festivals. Here are some of Piemonte's best.
The vendemmia festivals nearly always include bare foot grape stomping, contests, and of course, abundant food and wine. Wine tourists and locals alike love staining their hands and feet (and lips and teeth!) purple in the name of Bacchus and his favorite drink during the beautiful transition of late summer into autumn.
Most towns located in wine zones host their own treasured and traditional event. In addition, during the month of harvest, related events and festivities fill the calendars. Pick a town, any town: you are nearly guaranteed to find a local festa that revolves around food and wine in this period. The following events are some of the most time-honored and popular grape harvest festivals in the region.
First weekend in September
Open Wineries during the Grape Harvest – Cantine Aperte in Vendemmia, all over
The Italy-wide association that brings wine lovers the summer event “Open Wineries” (Cantine Aperte), Movimento Turismo del Vino, organizes an Open Wineries vendemmia-edition all over the country during the first weekend of September. In Piemonte, around 40 wineries in the provinces of Alessandria, Cuneo, Asti, and Novara host wine tastings, vineyards walks, cellar visits, observations of the harvest, and even treks on mules and ponies through the vineyard-covered countryside. Click here to see the participating wineries for 2015 in Piemonte.
Grape Festival – Festa dell'Uva in Gattinara (VC)
For over thirty years, the Festa dell'Uva in this northern Piemonte town has been attracting thousands of visitors. The streets are decked out for the occasion, and everyone participates, from local trattorie and bars to restaurants and locales. One particular feature of the festival are the dozens of stalls lining the streets throughout Gattinara. They serve fritto misto, polenta, fried fish, cured meats, cheeses, hot-off-the-grill meat, and more -- all to be paired with the wonderful, Nebbiolo-based wines of Alto Piemonte like Gattinara DOCG. → Read about the Grape Festival in Gattinara here
Grape Harvest Festival – Festa della Vendemmia at Serralunga d'Alba (CN)
Located in Barolo country at the Fontanafredda winery, this festival with its beautiful, surrounding vineyard landscape is especially popular. With food, wine, and relaxed games (some of which may include a bit of wine drinking), the atmosphere is light and festive. The most anticipated moment of the day is the barefoot grape stomping, in joyful I Love Lucy style. → Read about the Grape Harvest Festival event here
Festival of Wine in Monferrato - Festa del Vino in Monferrato in Casale Monferrato (AL)
This festival, held for over 50 years, is a big one. For six days during the last two weekends of September, the festival is all about celebrating and enjoying the fruits of the harvest -- and not just wine. Taste all sorts of local delicacies that commemorate the season at its many stands; and pair everything with Monferrato wines, of course. Don't miss the music festival that takes place alongside the festival, Folkermesse, with traditional music from all over Italy. Finally, there is another wine-tasting event that takes place earlier in September, held in Casale Monferrato: Notte Rosa and Stupujtime. → Read about the Festival of Wine in Monferrato here
Vinincontro at Candelo (BI)
For an authentic Piemontese experience, visit this beautiful and charming town in Alto Piemonte. Beyond traditional food, wine samplings, and live music, this celebratory grape harvest festival stands out because of this year’s Slow Food wine and food pairing workshops. And, don’t miss the Notte Bianca, or White Night: shops, restaurants, stands, and bars stay open until the wee hours of the morning, all with plenty of the local wines and food. → Read about Vinincontro here
End of September
Festival of the Grapes and Wines of Carema – Festa dell’Uva e del Vino di Carema in Carema (TO)
This festival includes food and wine tastings at stands throughout the town, guided visits to ancient wine-making cellars (Andar per Cantine Antiche), and an awards ceremony for the best and most beautiful grapes, the “Golden Grape” prize. Plus, the setting is fantastic: Carema is a small, hillside town in the midst of terraced vineyards and Alpine foothills. → Read about the Festival of the Grapes and Wines of Carema here