Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blessing the Vines


Blessing the Harvest

Blessing the Vines
In the spring and the autumn, many wineries and vineyards host a Blessing of the Vines, or Blessing of the Harvest festival where clergy will bestow a blessing for healthy vines and a fruitful harvest, or offer thanks for another productive season. But where did this custom of blessing the vines and the harvest begin, and why?

Venus
In Ancient Rome, in the spring, they held a festival called Vinalia prima.  This wine festival was held on April 23rd in honor of Venus who provided humans with everyday wine, and also, to honor Jupiter, the god of weather.  During this celebration the gods were asked for good weather for the growing season, and the wine from the year before was blessed before being offered for everyday use.


Jupiter
Vinalia rustica
On August 19th, Vinalia rustica was held. Jupiter was the god honored during this celebration because of his control over the weather and the ripening of the grapes.  A priest of Jupiter’s would pick the first bunch of grapes, bless the first sacred pressing, and offer a lamb as sacrifice. By blessing the grapes, this also meant the eventual wine was blessed, providing abundance to the community.


Harvest
A Blessing of the Vines
Today, we still bless the vines in the spring to ensure a bountiful crop.  And in the autumn, a Harvest Blessing is offered where the grapes are blessed, as are the vines that produced them, and the laborers who worked among them.



Although there are many blessings that may be offered, here is just an example of one.

Blessing of the Vines   (As translated by Rev. J.H. Schlarman, Bishop of Peoria)
 
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, in Thy goodness, to pour down Thy blessing on these young shoots and sprouts which Thou hast permitted to grow with due sunshine and rain, and make them to grow into mature fruit.

Grant to Thy people that they may always give thanks to Thee for Thy gifts, and fill the hungry with Thy gifts, which the fruitful earth produces in fullness so that the poor and needy may praise Thy glory.



Plan to Attend
No religious affiliation is necessary to attend a blessing celebration.  Check your local and state tourism departments to see when the wineries and vineyards in your area offer their “Blessing of the Vines” festivals.   Local Wine Events is an excellent source for wine-related events @ http://www.localwineevents.com/


Blessing the Winery
Several years ago at our winery, we held a small Blessing of the Winery ceremony since we did not grow grapes. Thirty people filled our winery and witnessed the priest bestow the blessing.  People talked to me about that day for years after, remembering where they were standing when the tanks were blessed, touched when the priest not only blessed the tanks, the wine, those who made the wine, and the building, but everyone attending, and all who would partake of it.  All of us that day felt that we were a part of a never-ending circle - of wine and friends, belief and ritual, life and death.

So plan a trip out to a winery this spring and enjoy a Blessing of the Vines. Enjoy sharing in the legacy of the grapes of the past and the wines of the present, keeping an eye toward the future.

Enjoy!

~ Joy