Centuries-old European tradition stays alive in Grapevine wine blessing

04/14/2014 3:58 PM

04/14/2014 4:00 PM

History and tradition converged on April 12 at the 22nd Blessing of the Vines ceremony at the Delaney Vineyards in Grapevine.

It was a daylong toast to the good life.

Participants took part in a long procession, led by a mariachi band and members of the Knights of Columbus, that wound its way to the far end of the vineyard. There, everyone witnessed a priest’s centuries-old European blessing meant to result in a bountiful harvest, savory grapes and robust wine.

The Rev. Ken Robinson, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Muenster, continued the tradition he began during his tenure at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Grapevine, from 1997 to 2007.

His mission was twofold: to offer a vine blessing adapted from the church’s Book of Blessings and to offer a special blessing for the new wines.

“I use the harvest blessing and make the changes necessary to bless the fields and vines,” the priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth said, noting that the Book of Blessings can be adapted to “the blessing of just about everything.”

Then, he “generically” offered a blessing for the new-release wines — a special touch added in recent years for his friend and winery owner Jerry Delaney.

“We perform the blessing as a social outreach,” said Robinson, who plans to perform the annual blessing “from now until the Lord returns.”

His blessing included the following: “God has created the earth and his providence has enriched it. Give us a bountiful harvest enriched by abundant grapes.”

Debbie Reynolds, executive director of the Grapevine-based Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, which has about 1,200 members, also spoke to the crowd.

“When Spanish missionaries came here in the 1600s, they performed the blessing over their crops that produced wine for their ceremonies,” she said.

She said the biggest hurdle is making sure people don’t drink their wine before they are asked to pour it on the ground as part of the ritual.

Her message barely reached Kristen Stonecipher of Haslet in time. Stonecipher was about to drink her wine but then poured it reverently at the root of a healthy vine.

Stonecipher, a physical therapist assistant, was joined by her parents, Mark and Karen Stonecipher of Flower Mound, and three of her friends, who came from Flower Mound, Austin and Dallas.

“Good weather, good wine and good friends,” she said. “Who could ask for more?”

After the Blessing of the Vines, the celebration continued on the New Vintage and Gallery Trail, where participants tasted a variety of wines at Grapevine’s winery tasting rooms and enjoyed works of art throughout the city.

Participating tasting rooms included Cross Timbers Winery, D’Vine Wine, Farina’s Winery and Café, Homestead Winery & Tasting Room and Su Vino Winery.

Grapevine’s next big wine extravaganza, GrapeFest, is slated for Sept. 11-14 and will offer samplings of the area’s wines, the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic — the largest consumer-judged wine competition in the nation — a children’s carnival, live music, food and the ever-popular GrapeStomp.

City spokeswoman Leigh Lyons said the wine industry is important to Grapevine, noting, “Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the nation, and Grapevine is the headquarters of the Texas wine industry.”

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