The Diocese of Oakland has found a new use for unused cemetary land. They are using it to grow grapes for sacramental wine.
"Wine and the blood of Christ is very much a strong symbol," he said. "We're always looking for signs and symbols to place in the cemetery, whether it's a statue of a saint or some building. People like those things."
The vineyard began as a beautification project. Unused land at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery needed sprucing up. The diocese decided to spend $25,000 for grapevines rather than $50,000 per acre for weed-free, irrigated turf.
The nearest graves are about 60 feet away from the grapes, though Seelig suspects some people will request plots closer to the vines.
Still, a church-operated vineyard makes sense, she said. After all, Franciscan friars introduced wine grapes to California in the late 1700s.
Seelig plans to start out with sacramental wine. Should the wine prove worthy, it might be sold at parish fundraising dinners or in diocesan gift shops. And plans are afoot to plant grapes at two other cemeteries.
Someday, the diocese just might produce a Bishop's Private Reserve - particularly appropriate in that Oakland's bishop is the Most Rev. Allen Vigneron.
Vigneron is French for vine grower.
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