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The harvest season, or crush as it is often called, is the most important time of the year in wine country. Most of Chile's wine-producing regions mark the moment with a Fiesta de la Vendimia, or harvest festival. They take place throughout the region in March and April, but the biggest and most spectacular are held in Colchagua and Curicó, where they include grape-stomping competitions and harvest-queen contests. Maule, the other notable festival, kicks off the year with its Carmenère Festival in January, in honor of the very Chilean red wine grape.
Not every fiesta is wine related, of course. Catholic roots run deep here, and many ancient religious festivals remain, such as those in honor of San Pedro and San Pablo, the patron saints of fishermen, on June 29 in fishing villages all along the coast. San Sebastian, the much persecuted, arrow-pierced saint, draws thousands of devotees to Yumbel (108 km [68 mi] from Concepción) on January 20. And during the fiesta de San Francisco, held October 4 in the small colonial-era village of Huerta de Maule, 38 km (24 mi) southwest of Talca, more than 200 huasos gather from all over Chile for a day of horseback events, including races around the central square.