You Can Really Call This Wine ‘Vintage Francis’

Photo via Kimberly Winston / RNS
“Our Lady of the Grapes” overlooks the Trinitas Cellars vineyard in Napa Valley. Photo via Kimberly Winston / RNS

It was a good thing for Trinitas Cellars that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name Pope Francis, and not, say Pope Malbecius.

When the Argentine cardinal became pope in 2013, Trinitas didn’t have any malbec — the famous Argentine grape — in its cellars. But it happened to have a few barrels of cabernet franc.

Behold! Thus was born “Cabernet FRANCis,” a 2012 red wine from Trinitas, a Catholic-owned winery nestled behind the iconic grape crusher statue at the southern foot of the Napa Valley.

“People kept asking me, ‘Why didn’t you make the pope a malbec?’” said Garrett Busch, the 28-year-old CEO of Trinitas, as he spoke in the winery’s book-lined library tasting room, a bottle of the wine before him. “And I’m like, ‘Come on guys, he made it easy on us.’”

Actually, the story is a bit more complicated. Trinitas, which is owned by Garrett’s parents, Tim and Steph Busch, made the family’s Catholic faith a part of business since its founding in 2002. Meetings and special events begin with prayer, winery dinners start with grace, and the winery’s website announces the family’s intention to “serve God in all they do.”

Even its name is Latin for the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Vatican City Consumes More Wine Per Capita Than Any Other Country

Wine being poured. Photo courtesy of lenetstan via Shutterstock

Tiny Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any other country in the world, according to information from the California-based Wine Institute.

According to the Wine Institute’s latest statistics, the Vatican consumed 74 liters of wine per person, around double the per-capita consumption of Italy as a whole. A standard bottle of wine is about .75 liters.

And while some of that consumption is clearly related to ceremonial Communion wine, Italian press reports say it’s more likely because Vatican residents are older (the lack of children are figured into the statistics), are overwhelmingly male, are highly educated, and tend to eat communally — all factors that tend to lead toward higher wine consumption.

A River Runs Through It

"HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?" pondered the middle-aged woman as she panted up the road to her village of Sychar, water jar forgotten. “How did we get into this heavy theological conversation from a simple request for a drink of water? Sometimes conversations take sharp turns, but this is just too bizarre. I’ve known a number of men in my life, but only the crazy ones told me they were the messiah! Better check this out with the town elders.”

In contrast to the approximately 800 references to water in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament is relatively spare. A friend explained the difference. The ancient Hebrews emerged from the eastern desert cultures of Egypt and Babylonia (now Iraq), which built their empires around rivers and where water was scarce and precious. But the New Testament writers were oriented toward the wetter West, where seafaring Greeks and Romans had appropriated the Mediterranean Sea as their major mode of transportation and conquest. For example, even though the book of Acts only mentions the word “water” in reference to baptism, the early missionary movement depended on travel by ship to spread the gospel message.

Water in the synoptic gospels
All four gospels introduce us to John the Baptist down by the Jordan River, who dunks in its flowing water those who repent from sin as a symbol of their cleansing. After John moves offstage, the synoptic gospels center much of Jesus’ activity in the towns around the Sea of Galilee. Here he not only teaches from a boat (Matthew 13:2; Luke 5:3), but he and his disciples travel in it from one side of the lake to the other, which includes a miraculous walk on and rebuking of the stormy waves (Matthew 14:22-27; Mark 6:47-52; Luke 8:22-25). Other references to water are few and sometimes incidental.

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Wine for Abundant Life

The Community of Sant´Egidio, a Catholic lay group, is encouraging a glass of good wine with supper. When you buy wine through the Wine for Life program you’ll fight AIDS in Africa with every sip. More than 100 of the best Italian vintners have joined Wine for Life by purchasing round red-and-blue “Wine for Life” stickers for 70 cents each and affixing them to their bottles. When the bottles are bought in stores or restaurants, customers can see that a donation has already been made to Sant’Egidio’s Drug Resour­ces Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition (DREAM) program at work in 10 African countries.

Smaller World. Three European human rights groups and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed a legal complaint in France accusing former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of authorizing torture in Iraq and Guantánamo. If found guilty, Rumsfeld could be arrested when in France.

Golden Goal. Italy’s Roman Catholic bishops have purchased a professional soccer team. With an 80 percent interest in AC Ancona, a third-division soccer team from a city in central Italy, the bishops aim to “moralize soccer,” according to a local Italian newspaper.

Single Serving? “Unmarried women are poised to tip the 2008 election in progressives’ favor,” according to a recent study by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. “In an electorate that is hungry for change, this cohort is the hungriest, with 78 percent saying the country is on the wrong track.”

Color Line. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, called on church leaders to “name the sin of racism and lead us in our repentance of it.” Amid increasing public displays of nooses and swastikas and ongoing racial profiling, Hanson urged all Christians to address the “spiritual crisis concerning race relations” in the U.S.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2008
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