It was turning into a perfect (if a tad bit hot!) day today when I ventured up to Chateau Montelena Winery for one of their harvest traditions - the Blessing of the Grapes. As I walked up the stone staircase that links Jade Lake to the historic Chateau, the sun was just starting to creep behind the winery, offering some welcome shade for the friends and family gathered to participate in this old tradition.
After a short welcome from Jim & Bo Barrett (which even included a little song and dance!), the two Priests in attendance said both a Catholic and Jewish blessing, followed by a sprinkling of Holy Water on the grapes as well as the attendees - after all, the Blessing of the Grapes not only asks God to watch over the grapes that will form the foundation of this year's vintage, but includes a prayer for the people who will be working many, many long hours over the next few months to turn those grapes into wine!
At the close of the blessing, Placido Hernandez, vineyard foreman and a 26-year veteran of the Chateau Montelena team, broke out his incredible operatic skills to sing a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria. I could not have imagined a more perfect ending to the ceremony.
As Jim Barrett put it, here's to "another opening of another show" - Happy Harvest 2010!
Julie Crafton, Napa Valley Vintners