**NOTE: As of November 2015 the Ruta del Mosto is not an “official” event run by the city. However most of the same bars and restaurants still serve mosto and free tapas; you just don’t get a booklet to stamp at each bar…I can live with that 🙂
Sanlúcar de Barrameda is known as a summer beach town getaway by Spaniards and tourists alike, but one of my favorite events of the year happens in autumn—the Ruta del Mosto.
What is the Ruta del Mosto all about?
From early November until the beginning of January, every weekend in Sanlúcar’s Barrio Alto (uptown) is full of locals, live music, and tons of mosto. Mosto is a young wine that is harvested as soon as the cold weather arrives (usually early to early-November). If you’re in Barrio Alto and you see a packed bar chances are it’s part of the ruta. To be sure about which bars are participating in the ruta you can ask for one of the little green Ruta del Mosto booklets which lists all of the participating establishments; keep in mind if a bar isn’t on the list it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t serve mosto (look for signs outside)! Make sure to get a stamp at each place you stop at on the list; if you fill the booklet with stamps you can enter to win a bunch of different prizes like a free night at a hotel in town, private tours of local landmarks, free dinner, etc. All you have to do is fill out your personal details on the back of the booklet and drop it into one of the big boxes you’ll at different stops on the ruta (usually it’s a big glass box and you’ll see a bunch of booklets with stamps in it already). Winning would be great…but the ruta is really about day drinking with good company, cheap tapas and enjoying Autumn in Spain!
How does it work?
When you enter one of the bars on the ruta it’s typical to order a “jarra de mosto” (pitcher of mosto) for about 3 -6€ and at many of the bars you also get free tapas with each pitcher you purchase. My friends and I always head to Barrio Alto around 2pm and start the ruta at lunchtime. Lately more and more bars in the downtown/center area are participating in the ruta so you can start downtown too and work you way up! We go from bar to bar ordering pitchers and tapas and collecting stamps. The night usually ends with everyone gathering at one or two bodegas (wineries) in Barrio Alto, listening to live flamenco or Zambomba (Christmas flamenco) and lots of dancing!
Why is it so great?
If cheap local wine and free food aren’t great then I don’t know what is! The ruta is a really unique and authentic experience for anyone who’s not from the area. Many of the bars make their own mosto and the only people you’ll see along the way are Sanluqueños (locals). Many of the spots on the ruta are tucked away within the little streets of Barrio Alto, untouched by tourism; that’s what makes the whole thing so special…the Ruta del Mosto is not something everyone gets to experience when they come to Spain and it encompasses a lot of the Andalucian characteristics I love; bueno (good food), bonito (beautiful weather), and barato (and cheap wine)!
It usually takes me a few weekends to get all my stamps; but if you really try there’s no reason why you can’t fill up the page in one weekend. 😉