Wine and the Church: A unique wine tasting at St. Pius X
GREENSBORO — St. Pius X hosted a wine tasting June 11 featuring wines from around the world. Julia Hunt, sommelier and newly-confirmed Catholic, presented a history of how the Church has helped to sustain wine production over the centuries.
"Wine is a living thing," Hunt explained to the guests who attended the program, which was organized by pastoral associate Tracy Earl Welliver as a celebration of the Church's influence on wine throughout history. In the Catholic faith, the use of wine in the Mass is essential, but the Church's influence on the life of wine in the world is also significant, they both said.
"The history of the Church and wine is so intertwined that truly one could not exist without the other," Welliver said.
Guests tasted wines in connection with Hunt's detailed account of their histories. As guests tasted Greek and Italian wines, for example, Hunt shared that the Greeks played a role in early wine production, bringing grapevines to Italy around the eighth century B.C.
During the collapse of the Roman Empire and the farming and trade that the Romans supported, European farmers sold their vineyards to the Church or simply abandoned them because they could no longer sustain them.
"The Church was the one structure stable enough to maintain these vineyards," Hunt explained, and Catholic monastic communities gradually took a leading role with agricultural production and commerce throughout Europe. Benedictine monks became the largest producers of wine in France and Germany, particularly, because of wine's sacramental purpose.
According to Hunt, sacramental wine was such a necessity throughout the world that Spanish conquistadors brought vines to Latin America specifically for use in the Eucharistic celebration. In 1872, O-Neh-Da Vineyard was founded by Bishop Bernard McQuaid in New York and is still today one of the oldest vineyards producing authentic sacramental wine. Even during Prohibition in early 20th century in the U.S., vintners in Napa Valley, Calif., found loopholes in the law so that they could continue providing sacramental wine to the Church.
\Welliver said, "The best thing Julia did for those in attendance was give them a greater appreciation for wine and its intertwined history with the Catholic Church. When one is at Mass now, even the Eucharistic Prayer itself takes on a new dimension."
-- Georgianna Penn, correspondent
Pictured above: Sommelier Julia Hunt presented a program on wine and Church history recently at St. Pius X Church in Greensboro. (Georgianna Penn, Catholic News Herald)
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy