Stellenbosch explodes with colour and festivity on Saturday, January 27, when the harvest parade hits town. An annual highlight on the wine calendar, the event sees marching bands, minstrels, farmers, winemakers, and workers take to the streets on brightly adorned floats, trucks and tractors, and make their way to the town hall for a ceremony to bless the harvest with good cheer.
Townsfolk and visitors line the oak-lined avenues at every turn to wave along the spectacle in an ancient tradition played out in almost every farming region in the world. In essence, the act expresses gratitude for past harvests and appeals for protection of the new one.
South Africa has seen a total of 365 wine grape harvests – a fact officially celebrated on February 2 thanks to a diary entry in 1659 heralding the first arrival of fruit in a test vineyard at the Cape. This pinpoints the start of the industry and South Africa is the only country able to do so.
“Harvest is a time of elevated activity and infectious excitement on our farms,” says Stellenbosch Wine Routes manager Elmarie Rabe. “The parade is not only symbolic, but brings our wine story to life, for many of the people and restaurants where these wines are eventually enjoyed.”
Where the parade can be seen
The parade gets underway at 09:00 from the town’s Toy and Miniature Museum in Market Street. It then makes its way along Alexander, Bird, Church and Plein Streets to arrive at the town hall at 09:30 for the official blessing of the harvest. Once completed, the procession then returns along its route to the starting point.