In the past eight months I have had the fortune to visit some of the lesser known wine regions of Europe.
Among them, the Douro Valley in Portugal,
organic Prosecco wineries in the Veneto, Italy,
and some fine vineyards in the Peloponnese, Greece.
With my interests so spread abroad, I had not been paying much attention to local vineyards. But recently, while doing some last minute research for our upcoming book, The Glass of Wine, I came across an article in the New York Times that turned my head back to California.
Turning Cemeteries into Wine at a California Diocese describes how the church fathers are using land in cemeteries to produce wine. In reading, I was reminded that the planting of grapes for the purpose of making wine by the church fathers is not new. As early as 1620 Franciscan friars were planting mission grapes in the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico. In 1769, they planted the same in California establishing the first vineyard and winery. Their intent: to produce sacramental wine to be used in the daily celebration of the Mass. Today, the fathers are at it again, but for more reason than making sacramental wine.
Shortly after reading about the cemetery vineyards, I came across Gisela H. Kreginger’s new book: The Spirituality of Wine, a natural sequence to the above article.
While Kreginger focuses on the history of wine in western spirituality, extending her work back as far back as Biblical times, the use of wine in sacred ceremony has served a hallowed purpose world-wide in sacred ceremonies since antiquity. A few years back when I attended my son’s wedding at a Shinto Shrine in Japan for example, the bride and groom were offered three small servings of sake, a rice wine, by the presiding high priest.
Wine has served a hallowed purpose world-wide in sacred ceremonies since antiquity. Bacchanalian and Dionysian rites included! For readers interested in learning about the use of wine in the western tradition, I highly recommend Kreginger’s book.