Monday, August 25, 2008

Confrerie des Vignerons de St. Vincent de Macon

During January, St. Vincent of Saragossa, the patron saint of winegrowers, is honored throughout Europe with celebrations, prayers, weather-omen ceremonials, and, of course, wine tasting.

St. Vincent of Saragossa died in the year 304, martyred during the last great persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperors Maximian and Diocletian. By early medieval times, St. Vincent had been adopted as a patron saint by vineyard workers and winemakers in Europe – perhaps they identified their struggles against drought, mildew, frost, insects and all of the other tribulations of wine growing with the legendary tortures suffered by St. Vincent.
A story is told that during the Middle Ages the Catholic Church had brought some relics of St. Vincent to Burgundy. The region had experienced multiple poor vintages, but after the Church blessed vineyards with the relics of St. Vincent there were a long string of exceptional vintages that followed.
As devotion to St. Vincent spread, new legends sprang up to seal the identity of the saint with the particular locality.

Today there are statues of St. Vincent in nearly all villages in Burgundy and they are all treated as relics and every years since the 1930's an annual festival called the Saint Vincent Tournante.

As devotion to St. Vincent spread, new legends sprang up to seal the identity of the saint with the particular locality.

The Confrerie des Vignerons de St. Vincent de Macon was founded in 1950, the Brotherhood has thus far held more than 700 chapters and preserved over time the determination of its creators: to discover Burgundy and more particularly the vineyards of M√Ęconnais.
The Oregon Chapter was started in the 70's by some of the early Pinot pioneers and today is active in promoting wine and wine education.
Initiation Ceremony
The above photo shows the ritual of initiation which explains the life of St. Vincent and also the significance of the Tastevin, the colors of the ribbon and the lapel pins. The yellow of the ribbon represents the sunshine, the green represents the grapevine and the red represents the earth itself. In our case the red was very appropriate as we were at the top of Prince Hill Vineyard, located in the Dundee Hills Appellation in the Willamette Valley. The soil here is a red Jory clay and locals describe this area as "The Red Hills of Dundee".

Chancelier-Norm Schoen
In this day and age of casual dress and little pomp and circumstance in our daily lives, the donning of ritual robes and having a ceremony to welcome new people to our group does make you feel like a part of history. In our case we are fortunate enough to live in a world class wine region (Willamette Valley) and the initiation was held at the home of Dick Erath. Dick was one of the true pioneers of Pinot Noir and his vision and foresight has laid the foundation for the second generation of winemakers.

Norm & Dick Erath
It still amazes me that the Pinot Noir industry is so new that I am able to meet and spend time with some of these visionary winemakers. Dick was one of the founding members of the Portland Confrerie Chapter and he was a wonderful host. I will not forget that day at the top of Prince Hill Vineyard and my afternoon with Dick Erath.


Heather said...

*cough* NERD! *cough*

btw, I'm taking time away from burning a pot of rice (onigiri from the leftover tuna) and fighting the urge to nap to work on Top-Secret Project PNW, Special Ops.


Norm Schoen said...

Heather, are going to make me cry : ( (kidding), I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to spit out my glass of wine : P


Dear friends : As an admiror of your great work of hagiography I want to recommend you a very complete blog about the legend , art and history of Saint Vincent of Saragossa as a very important saint in Spain in fourth century, developed by Via Vicentius . This web is written in Spanish by Via Vicentius but it can be easily translated to english or any other language with the translator tool that the web includes. It would be great if you visit the web for public knowledge of our work .Thanks for your attention.

Salvador Raga