02-Planeta_manchette_175x100
Allegrini 2018

SACRED AND PROFANE IN THE VINEYARD. JUST OUTSIDE OF SAN FRANCISCO, THE HOLY SEPULCHRE CEMETERY, SURROUNDED BY VINEYARDS, GAVE PERMISSION TO BURY A LOVED ONE NEXT TO THE VINES USED TO CREATE THE "BISHOP'S VINEYARD" WINE BRAND

You might be more royalist than the king or, in this case, more puritanical than the bishop – if a cemetery landscaped with vineyards makes you grimace. If you then add the fact that the idea comes from the US, specifically California and the diocese has decided to allow (for an additional fee of 1.000 dollars) a burial next to the vineyards, then false morality might be right around the corner. But, before you pick up the proverbial stone, it would be perhaps appropriate to dwell on the antique and fundamental relationship that grapes and the Christian religion have in common, starting with the miracle of the wedding at Cana, to the point that it is precisely because of Christianity that vineyards have spread to the four corners of the globe.
That said, the Diocese of Oakland has decided to further expand its choice of using vines as a plant ornament for the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, by allowing the family members to bury the deceased next to a row of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, as reported by the "New York Times" (www.nytimes.com), creating a different profile.
The choice of vines was originally decided mainly for economic and practical reasons, since they were cheaper and – since frequently the State has to deal with droughts – consume less water; since then, however, the vineyards at Holy Sepulchre have given life to prize winning nectars and they look "less intimidating and sad" at the cemetery, in the words of the Bishop, Michael Barber. Who added that the history of those 16 hectares of vineyards “is a bit like the miracle of Jesus when he turned water into wine”, referring to the commercial success of wine critics acclaim, now sold under the label "Bishop's Vineyard". The Holy Sepulchre houses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Primitivo while the brand includes wines from two other cemeteries as well: the Holy Cross of Antioch Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, and Saint Joseph's Cemetery in San Pablo, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Sangiovese.
Another important fact of the unusual duo tombstones-vineyards is that is attracts visitors, and therefore, alternative and innovative ways to cover maintenance costs: “Cemeteries”, commented Keith Wegener, professor of History of Architecture at the University of Oregon and expert on the subject, “have historically always been considered a first-class ornamental landscape for a city and were full of wonderful trails, so that it was common to visit them and have picnics there. And now they are returning to that use”.
From this point of view, the Oakland diocese made a very far-sighted choice, and it would have been enough just for the cost difference between planting grass and planting vines. But the real turning point was when, in 2013, the Diocese decided to have a professional evaluate the quality of the grapes to make an "unpretentious" wine for mass. The vines proved to e of excellent quality and today the Bishop's Vineyard brand boasts an important list of awards as well as a quite unique history and landscape.

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