abbey-of-new-clairvaux-to-host-blessing-of-the-grapes-saturday

Abbey of New Clairvaux to host Blessing of the Grapes Saturday

VINA — Visitors to Abbey of New Clairvaux Saturday will have the chance to see a 1,400-year-old ceremony known as the Blessing of the Grapes.

The 13th annual event, which starts at 10:30 a.m., is held at the St. James Vineyard in Vina and is a part of the Trappist-Cistercian monk tradition.

According to information discovered in a report from the 50th Continental Congress, the town of Vina dates back to 1888. It is home to the first wine making operation in California, a state that is globally recognized for producing premiere wines.

“This new finding is very exciting because not only do we have the U.S. Congress recognizing Vina, but the proximity of when it was written to the date of our vineyard’s founding in 1849 makes it hold more credibility than even if it was written today,” said winemaker Aimée Sunseri. “Additionally, having a historical record like this that is tied to our land is especially important because the terroir is such an integral part of what we do. This acknowledgment further legitimizes California’s place in the wine world. So, it’s something that is not only important to our winery, but to the wine industry throughout California.”

This newly discovered acknowledgment adds to the vineyard’s already rich history, Sunseri said.

“We celebrate this news with humble gratitude,” said Abbot Paul Mark Schwan. “We have chosen to share this news at our largest annual community event, the Blessing of the Grapes, because we would like for this special moment to be as much about our community, for which we have a fondness and appreciation, as it is about us.”

The land the abbey sits on was purchased in 1881 by Leland Stanford, who turned it into a winery and vineyard that was one of the largest in the world. It included a 55,000-acre wine operation with a 4,000-acre vineyard giving it the title of world’s largest vineyard until prohibition, the release said.

Trappist-Cistercian monks purchased the land in 1955 and later grew, made and bottled their own wine, which made them the first such monastery in the Americas to do so. They partnered with the Sunseri Family, of which Aimée Sunseri is the fifth generation, in 2000.

Saturday’s event is free an open to the public. There will also be a monk market, featuring numerous vendors offering local produce and fare 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The ceremony itself will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the monastery is at 26240 Seventh St.

Tours of the church, vineyard and winery will be available 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and there will be mobile catering and wine tasting for purchase.

For more information, visit www.newclairvauxvineyard.com.

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