BY JUDY BARRETT
Jim’s older brother, Fr. Vincent Barrett, officiated at our annual harvest season Blessing of the Grapes many times in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. After Fr. Vincent passed away in 1985, we chose to honor his memory by constructing a small shrine on a quiet spot on Horse Hill overlooking the Montelena Estate vineyard. If you’ve taken our vineyard tour you perhaps noticed it as you headed up the main vineyard road in our “club car.”
In addition to honoring our own beloved Vincent, the shrine has a second significance for us. St. Vincent of Saragossa, martyred in 304 during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Maximian, had been adopted as their patron saint by vineyard workers and winegrowers across Europe by early Medieval times—perhaps they identified their struggles against drought, mildew, frost, insects, and all of the tribulations of grape growing with the legendary tortures suffered by St. Vincent. The many “St. Vincent” place names in Italy, Spain, France and other parts of Europe bear witness to the widespread devotion to him, as do the stained glass depictions of St. Vincent in many Gothic cathedrals, most notably at Chartres.
In some places in Europe, St. Vincent is celebrated in January with—of course—special food and wine (his feast day is January 22). A good excuse to pop the cork on a bottle of Montelena Estate Cab!
Our vineyard tours are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays, weather permitting.