Vinalia Priora was an annual Roman festival that occurred on April 23rd. It was the first of two festivals, the Vinalia Rustica being the second, that took place in Rome regarding the production of wine. Although it is not considered a very renowned Roman festival, it was rather popular amongst the Roman people because it involved every citizen and appealed to one of the most pleasurable aspects of life: their love of wine. The exact origins of the festival remain uncertain, but it is known that the festival was originally celebrated in honor of Jupiter and later became connected to the goddess Venus as well.
In its beginning, the Vinalia Priora was dedicated to honoring Jupiter. This is connected to the myth of the hero Aeneas, who promised Jupiter an offering of wines from Latium if he were to become victorious in a war against his enemies of different regions. Aeneas won the war, and therefore dedicated some of Latium's wine in Jupiter's name. This myth survived throughout the ages by the Romans people during the festival.
The festival later became associated with the goddess Venus because the Temple of Erycinna, a temple in honor of Venus Erucina, was dedicated on April 23rd as well.
On the day of the Vinalia Priora, the casks of wine that had been produced the previous autumn were opened after allowing for fermentation of the wine. Before the wine could be tasted by the Roman people, a libation of the wine, commonly known as calpar, had to be poured as a tribute to Jupiter. Following the offering to Jupiter, the Roman citizens were allowed to taste the wine for the first time. A great amount of celebration followed the offering and the tasting of the wine, in which everyone participated in the revelry. At this time, those who produced wine the previous autumn were finally allowed to bring their wine into the city and sell it to others.
As time progressed, festivites related to Venus were also incorporated into the festival. Prostitutes and other women of somewhat ill repute made offerings to Venus as their protector in the form of burning incense, mint, and myrtle in the Temple of Erycinna. Women of higher classes with better reputations worshipped the goddess on the Capitoline Hill by granting similar gifts to Venus.