Updated on April 11, 2013. The festival's official website is currently unavailable due to renovations. Thanks to the Miguel Pereira Tourism Secretariat for the 2013 festival schedule.
Culinary, history and culture come together in Coffee, Cachaça and Chorinho (April 12-14 and April 19-23, 2013), an annual festival and tour of attractions in the Paraiba River Valley in Rio de Janeiro State.
The area, also known as the Coffee Valley because it lived a Coffee Cycle in the 19th century, hosts the event in April, coffee harvest time. That era, which lasted from about 1830 to 1930, left behind historic farms with sumptuous mansions amidst soft-contoured hills covered with renewed rainforest and a rich culture which can be experienced during the tour.
Chorinho, commemorated in Brazil on April 22, is performed throughout the festival, by bands playing at the restaurants, hotels, historic coffee farms, and squares.
Conciclo, the Coffee Valley Tourism Council, plans to keep on adding culinary workshops, art shows, plays and other performances to the tour schedule.
Thirteen cities make up the Coffee Valley Route, which is officially recognized as a Brazil attraction and is visited by about 50,000 people a year:
- Barra do Piraí
(and its district Ipiabas)
- Barra Mansa
- Engenheiro Paulo de Frontin
- Miguel Pereira
- Paty do Alferes
- Rio das Flores
- Valença – Conservatória
- Volta Redonda
Cachaça production has a strong historic in the Coffee Valley. A recent surge in the number of fine labels handcrafted in the area's alambiques, or cachaça distilleries, which have modernized tools and equipments while honoring time-proven techniques, has brought the area to the attention of aficionados in Brazil and abroad.
Werneck, a label launched in 2008 in Rio das Flores and the winner of the 4th Coffee Valley Cachaça Contest in 2011, is an example of this flourishing trend. Other outstanding local labels are Cachoeira de Cachaça (www.westpecuaria.com), produced in Vassouras, and award-winning Magnifica (www.cachacamagnifica.com.br), produced in Miguel Pereira. A few Coffee Valley cachaças are members of the Cachaças do Vale Association.
Some of the area's alambiques can be visited on Coffee, Cachaça and Chorinho tours (and often by appointment during the rest of the year). Tours from participating cities also feature historic coffee farms and country stores selling locally-produced cheese, rapadura and other sweets.
To learn more about Coffee Valley cachaça, watch these Cachaca Tour 2009 videos by Phil Gomes. The author of the Cachaçagora blog, a Chicago-based cachaça enthusiast, visited several of the area's alambiques as well as Cachaça Maria Izabel, in Paraty.
Historic Coffee Farms:
For more information on all the area's farms, contact the Preservale Institute.
Getting to the Festival:
A Rio de Janeiro-based receptive tour agency which works with Coffee Valley tours is LHP Rio Receptivo. They organize day trips and longer stays in the Valley, including visits to Coffee, Cachaça and Chorinho in vans and microbuses, with English-speaking guides.