The by-product

St. Joseph cemetery in San Pablo, vineyard in background

The following comes from an October 26 article in the Daily Review.

Even if you’re giving altar wine to churches, it needs to pass the taste test.

That’s what Roman Catholic diocese of Oakland learned when it began offering free sacramental wine to about half its 85 churches three years ago. The fact that the wine was made from grapes grown at diocese cemeteries didn’t get much reaction, but the taste did.

“We produced what we thought was a good wine,” said Robert Seelig, executive director of funeral and cemetery services for the diocese. “We offered two wines: a zinfandel and a chardonnay. Neither are what you consider to be sweet.”

But sweet seemed to be what parishioners preferred. The diocese responded and changed the wine’s makeup. “People were complaining about the taste, so we went to a rosé with a high sugar level,” said Tom Richardson, director of development for the diocese. The rosé sacramental wine is bottled at Brutocao Cellars in Hopland under the Cathedral of Christ the Light label, a reference to the cathedral in Oakland.

The diocese planted vineyards at its Hayward cemetery, Holy Sepulchre, six years ago. Since then, it has added vineyards at Holy Cross Cemetery in Antioch, and then St. Joseph’s Cemetery in San Pablo, for a total of 16 acres. Three years ago, it began turning grapes from those vineyards into altar wine for its churches throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

When the diocese planted its first vineyard at Holy Sepulchure, the purpose was beautification, not vinification. The church had acres of unused land bordering the back of the cemetery that needed sprucing up. “Nobody wants to be buried next to scrub brush,” Seelig said.

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  1. Maryanne Leonard says:

    Holy jehosepha! Now the souls in the pews have to be coddled like sugar addicts and connoseurs of fine wine? Next they’ll want icing atop the hosts!

    • And the same applies to doctrine. When it’s not sweet enough, we just change it by leaving out teachings on abortion, contraception etc. which sour the message and leave a bad taste on people’s spiritual mouths. Christ told His disciples to do that when he was preparing them for their mission!!

    • maybe REALLY hot sauce (on non-consecrated hosts, of course) for sinners who approach the communion station…

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Maryanne,

      In some modernist parishes they have already gotten sweetened hosts, sometimes with cinamon and raisins!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  2. i’m glad the diocese listened to the people of god about the taste of the wine.

    the church teaches that the bread used for communion should have the appearnace and taste of “real food,” and i think a similar caution should be applied to the sacramental wine — if it’s sour or bitter, this would make for a bad communion experience, especially for newcomers to the parish.

    “taste and see the goodness of the lord” is a good rule of thumb when baking altar bread and producing altar wine.

    • Max, you do have a capitalization key on your keyboard, do you not? GOD is ALWAYS capitalized, period. It shows such disrespect to do otherwise. Even the pronouns that denote God should be capitalized, and too many Bibles do not heed this anymore. The older Bibles always did so. Does it take more printers ink to make capitals? Why the change? When you say
      he made the earth in seven days as opposed to He made the earth in seven days, certainly shows a certain understanding, no?

      • Abeca Christian says:

        Bravo Dana!

      • The Other Rose says:

        Dana, I agree, bothers me too.

      • DANA, i was rushing and forgot to capitalize the word GOD as i usually do. you, however, are mistaken in claiming that one must capitalize everything pertaining to GOD including pronouns, as you can see for yourself by going to the website of the vatican and checking things like this quote from “caritas in veritate,” the pope’s encyclical:

        “Moreover, such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God: without him, development is either denied, or entrusted exclusively to man, who falls into the trap of thinking he can bring about his own salvation, and ends up promoting a dehumanized form of development…”

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      max,

      Once again you show your ignorance of the Roman Church’s rubrics. The host to be consecrated must be of unleavened bread with NO additives!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • KENNETH, i am quite aware of this regulation.

        when I refer to the holy see’s commandments about how to make altar bread, I am not recommending additives or leaven.

        what the vatican is asking for is that the hosts be substantial enough to in some way resemble the unleavend bread JESUS used, rather than wafers that are so thin and white they are almost like air…

        • Abeca Christian says:

          You capitalized KENNETH! max I know you can do it, but this time Cap with the Lord’s name instead and when referring to Him! OUR PRECIOUS LORD ALMIGHTY!

          Now no more excuses chico!

          • okay, MOM.

          • Abeca Christian says:

            max you got that right. now straightup your collar and sit straight! lol but it’s Mum to ya!

          • ABECA, are you english? or irish? or scottish?

            when i saw the word ‘MUM’ i just assumed.

            cheerio!

            max

          • max, don’t be sassing your MOM or MUM, whatever the case or you’ll end up on your bum.

          • Abeca Christian says:

            Well it’s interesting you ask lad but my mum is Spanish/Mexican and my dad was Arabic but he spoke 7 languages. I was subjected to many cultures, truly darling, more proper but I have changed a lot since living in the USA, but we are around more Spanish folks and Arabic and my husbands side is Caucasian and portuguese.

          • okay, MUM, i’ll be more careful about capitalizing now.

            otherwise, we’ll have to endure more poems from JLS!

  3. Clinton R. says:

    Parishoners complained about the taste of the wine? Is this wine tasting or Holy Mass? Another good reason for the Blood of Christ to be reserved only for the celebrant. Modernism rears its ugly head again!

  4. You people who have typed in a smug hissy fit over worshipers desiring good-tasting wine need to get a life.

    If the liturgy should be characterized by excellent art, excellent music, excellent architecture and excellent furnishings, then excellence in the sacramental elements should be sought as well.

    Some people are never happy.

    • What was really sad is the damage done to the wine industry during Prohibition. Had it not been for the need for communion wine in the Catholic Church, there might not even be a wine industry today. Of course the vintner’s best should be used, Sawyer, but being overly-obsessed with the best in wine and food etc. borders on gluttony or pride, don’t you think? We all need beauty in our lives, and enjoy the gifts God gives, but wanting the BEST is definitely something else entirely. On Making Categorical Affirmations, “Who Can Be Called “The Greatest”? In the December 2011 issue of New Oxford Review By Alice von Hildebrand is an excellent article on avoiding making apodictic statements. If you seek the very best, I highly recommend anything the good doctor writes, but especially this piece. ;o)

    • sawyer, you make a lot of sense.

      much like myself.

      i’m sure these friends would be HORRIFIED to have a moldy host placed on their tongue, so why shouldn’t the altar wine we purchase be pleasing, too?

      i was once at a mass where they used some horrible, bitter, dry, mind-bogglingly awful red wine to consecrate — not the most prayerful experience of my life.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

        Max and Sawyer,

        Birds of a feather flock together! Never mind about such silly things as the Official Rubrics!

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

        Max and Sawyer,

        I remember when the beauty came from the Rubrics of the Mass, not from a delicatesen menu!

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

        • uh, KENNETH, the rubrics of the mass specificlly call for the bread and wine to be GOOD and thus worthy of the sacrifice being celebrated.

          if you wouldn’t use a paper cup for holy communion, even so you shouldn’t use bad wine or bad bread for the consecration.

          and by “bad wine” i’m talking about something that’s sour and repulsive, which has nothing to do with high cost or snootiness, just smart choices.

          • So, max, you don’t really understand what Kenneth is referring to as the rubrics of the Mass? Well that stands to reason, what with you’re stuck in San Francisco and all.

        • Kenneth, you’re so sweet! May God continue to bless you and I’m thankful for such honest people in the world!

      • max, don’t say that you were in such utter disbelief at the poor quality of the wine, that you continued to sample it to see if it really was all that bad, and that finally you discovered that it was not so untastey after all.

      • max, you apparently were also flabberghasted and taken aback, not to mention stultified and possibly even transmogrified.

        • JLS, thanks for teaching me new words.

          you are indeed Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

          however, on a more serious note, i’m still just saying that sour wine and moldy bread should not be brought to the altar for consecration.

          the rubrics for holy mass say:

          319. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

          320. The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat, must be recently baked, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened.

          321. The meaning of the sign demands that the material for the Eucharistic celebration truly have the appearance of food. It is therefore expedient that the eucharistic bread, even though unleavened and baked in the traditional shape, be made in such a way that the priest at Mass with a congregation is able in practice to break it into parts for distribution to at least some of the faithful. Small hosts are, however, in no way ruled out when the number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral needs require it. The action of the fraction or breaking of bread, which gave its name to the Eucharist in apostolic times, will bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters.

          322. The wine for the eucharistic celebration must be from the fruit of the grapevine (cf. Lk 22:18), natural, and unadulterated, that is, without admixture of extraneous substances.

          323. Diligent care should be taken to ensure that the bread and wine intended for the Eucharist are kept in a perfect state of conservation: that is, that the wine does not turn to vinegar nor the bread spoil or become too hard to be broken easily.

    • The more external stuff you surround your senses with during Mass, the fewer spiritual rewards will be your lot.

      • like incense?

        and bells?

        and stained glass windows?

        i happend to find all three quite spiritually rewarding…

        • “the more external stuff”, max. Not all external stuff. Most modern parishes look like airport terminal lobbies with a few religious items in them. There is one in San Diego that was architected by the pastor,which is a faux airport hanger or dry dock or something. He even decorated the walls with paintings for sale, which had nothing to do with religion but more like what you see on the walls of restaurants or dentist offices. I have not been there for twentyfive years though. To cover the walls it would take plaster many yards thick due to the steel support beams.

        • max, the incense accomplishes two things. First it overcomes the pedestrian fumes from cheap and expensive perfume, and second it represents the prayers of the faithful rising to Heaven. The bells alert us when the consecration is happening, in case our eyes are closed. Stained glass windows help when we want our eyes open and are tired of looking at the backs of heads and the flirtateous eyes of the immature and those who have no self control, and babies who are trying to get us to make faces at them.

          • JLS, you old heart-breaker, you, causing women to direct their flirtatious eyes at you during mass!!!

            who woudl have thunk???

    • I just read today that the happiest man in the world is the Dalai Lama’s assistant, and they determined this, not with wine, but with pasting wires to his head and processing the signals with a machine.

    • Then, Sawyer, you’d include St Paul, who explained that Catholics should do all their sense whoopin’ up apart from Mass.

  5. guys, these parishioner are not asking for the best of the best, nor for the most expensive wine, and certainly not for something flashy (unlike some pastor up in the napa valley who actually announced the VINTAGE of the communion wine they’d be using one sunday!).

    they are simply saying that sweet wine is easier for communion time than sour wine.

    no big deal, but a sensible request, especially as the faithful, including children, are welcome to receive the PRECIOUS BLOOD.

    • Good point, max.Thank you!

    • Manechevitz is sweet, so why not go for this tried and true fruit of the vine made by human hands? I mean, afterall, if you’re moving with the Evangelicals towards the Sedar meal, then what the hey, go for it.

      • Or we could even get more Jewish and use Mogen David, JLS. Ha! Ha! Then it would be twice blessed, by a rabbi AND a Catholic priest.

        • Of course, Manechevitz is a Kosher (approved and blessed by a rabbi) wine, too.

          • JLS and I are only joking so I hope no one takes us seriously and gets upset by this. I would have no problem drinking a wine by Jewish producers outside the Mass, but Christian growers should be use for the wine for Mass.

  6. THE RUBRICS FOR CELEBRATING MASS:

    319. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

    320. The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat, must be recently baked, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened.

    321. The meaning of the sign demands that the material for the Eucharistic celebration truly have the appearance of food. It is therefore expedient that the eucharistic bread, even though unleavened and baked in the traditional shape, be made in such a way that the priest at Mass with a congregation is able in practice to break it into parts for distribution to at least some of the faithful. Small hosts are, however, in no way ruled out when the number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral needs require it. The action of the fraction or breaking of bread, which gave its name to the Eucharist in apostolic times, will bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters.

    322. The wine for the eucharistic celebration must be from the fruit of the grapevine (cf. Lk 22:18), natural, and unadulterated, that is, without admixture of extraneous substances.

    323. Diligent care should be taken to ensure that the bread and wine intended for the Eucharist are kept in a perfect state of conservation: that is, that the wine does not turn to vinegar nor the bread spoil or become too hard to be broken easily.

  7. I do not take the Holy Sacrament under both species, but when I do drink wine, I prefer dry (not sweet) wine. I did have a drink mixed with sangria, though, at a Mexican restaurant that was delicious. My mother gave me just a small amount of loganberry wine when I was younger, and it gave me a headache and nausea, so I usually cannot stand the sweet stuff by itself. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus did give the people at the wedding the best wine, so the best wine should be used in the Holy Eucharist. I have no problem with that, but there are some excellent dry wines, too. I guess it should be what the priest and people who take it under both species want and/or is available. If I know I am going to drink a red wine, I take an aspirin before, so I do not get a headache from the acid that is in red wine. It works for me.

    • I should have said good or excellent wine since It certainly would be too expensive to use the “best” wine, wine that is rare and extremely expensive. Now I am off of this subject. I have said enough.

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