Editorial Photography Haro La Rioja Spain - The Wine Battle Haro La Rioja

 Riscos de Bilibio, Haro, La Rioja, Spain. 29 June 2014. Revellers at Haro Wine Battle held annually on St Peter's Day. Haro is at the heart of the Rioja wine region. In 2013 35% of Rioja exports were destined for the UK. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org | +34 646775604

Editorial Photography Haro La Rioja Spain

There’s a phrase in Spanish that I use when describing my style of portrait photography. I say I like photographing people “en su salsa”. It literally means “in their sauce” but figuratively implies that I snap away while they’re doing the things they love, be it cooking, skiing, bike riding or whatever.

The words take on a more literal meaning in these photos of last week’s Wine Battle in Haro, La Rioja, the town’s famous St Peter’s Day festival which is increasingly drawing an international crowd.

Press photographer in Haro, La Rioja

Soon after dawn thousands of people hike up Riscos de Bilibio, a hill just outside the northern Spanish town in the heart of the Rioja wine region. The path narrows as you reach the top and is lined by rows of people who throw wine over you. The exact origins of this custom are somewhat fuzzy but it’s nevertheless appropriate that the town that calls itself the Capital of Rioja should have a sensational wine festival.

Professional photographers will often tell you that if you want to feel the image you need to get close to the action and shoot with a wide angle lens. On this occasion that meant getting my oldest camera, wrapping it in plastic bags, crossing my fingers and getting stuck in…