On a crisp fall day in April 1936, Delia Larrive Escudero was picking grapes for the family's table at the small vineyard her father kept at the back of their house when she received a visit from her brother, who bore good news. Her father had given his consent—she was only sixteen-years-old—for Delia to enter the first official Queen of the Grape Harvest (reina de la vendimia) competition, in the province of Mendoza, in western Argentina. She would represent Godoy Cruz, one of Mendoza's seventeen departments, each with its own particular terrain, from the lush creeks shaded by pine forests of Tunuyan to the vast barren valleys of clay soil of Tupungato. Like many others in the province, Delia was from an immigrant family. Over hundreds of years, immigrants—principally from Italy and Spain—had transformed the desert at the feet of the Andes into vineyards that bear a bounty of fruit to this day.
Mendoza has been celebrating the harvest in one way or another since Spanish colonists, and Jesuits introduced grapes to Argentina (via Chile) in the late 1500s as a source for sweet Mass wine.