Posted by: ankneredelstein | February 28, 2009

Saint-Vincent Tournante Wine Festival – January 24-25 2009

stvincenttournantbrothers3Each year in January at a different village (or villages),  Burgundy hosts the Saint-Vincent Tournante wine festival.  Starting in the middle ages, the fraternal societies of wine villages of Burgundy organized the original events of St. Vincent. The Brotherhood of the Chevaliers du Tastevin organized the first festival rotating among different villages.  Currently, 100,000 – 200,000 visitors attend the event over the two-day schedule.  The chosen village is decorated with brightly colored paper flowers, banners, dummies and woodlan/floral arrangements. Traditionally there is a parade of the 80 fraternal conpanies of Burgundy, complete with costumes and statues. There is usually a Mass and a meal of pork held by different winemakers for the brotherhood participants. The winegrowers’ mutual aid society passes the statue of St. Vincent (Vincent of Saragossa) from village to village each year where he resides until the next festival. Apparently, Saint Vincent is the patron saint of winegrowers.  It has gotten so popular that it has been split between several villages in recent years, with shuttle buses taking visitors from larger transportation centers into the quaint villages hosting the festival events.

In 2009, the city of Macon was the central transportation hub, taking people to the villages of Pierreclo and Chardonnay.  For €10, you get a wine glass emblazoned with the festival shield (with a spiffy around-the-neck glass cradle to prevent any droppage) and 6 tasting tickets. (you can buy more if you wish!).  Buses take the happy festival goers to the village sites where you wander through the decorated streets (all closed to vehicle traffic…pedestrians only) where dozens and dozens of wine tasting stations are set up with happy tasters to try the different wines of the hosting village areas. Local inhabitants open up their garages, courtyards and street-facing spaces to host the local winemakers and their tasting stations. In 2009, we saw the different wineries all use the same label, with little maps on the back distinguishing their wines from their neighbor’s.  The atmosphere is relaxed and fun with wandering musicians, people in costumes, wine tastings, educational displays, food and all kinds of unexpected things.  As the day eases on, people get friendlier and friendlier, gladly talking to strangers about the wines and people of the region with great cheer.  It is something wonderful to see.  A good description can be found at BurgundyToday.

Some photos:

As the bus arrives in Pierreclos, the roads are already full of people heading toward the village.

As our bus arrives in Pierre clos, the roads are already full of people heading toward the village.

Jennifer, Beaven and Piper at one entrance to the St. Vincent Tournante Festival

Jennifer, Beaven and Piper at one entrance to the St. Vincent Tournante Festival

The winegrowing hills surrounding Pierre Clos

The winegrowing hills surrounding Pierreclos

Three-man band!

Three-man band!

Irish National Drinking Team Delegates

Irish National Drinking Team Delegates

Street Scene

Street Scene

Happy people at one of the tasting stations

Happy people at one of the tasting stations

Beaven learns to identify some aromas in village Burgundies

Beaven learns to identify some aromas in village Burgundies

Local artisan displays fantastic glass insects

Local artisan displays fantastic glass insects

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