In the next installment of, "The Grape State of New York," series, we're visiting the Upstate NY winery that had the honor of serving Pope Francis when he visited New York City in September. Tara Grimes reports.
Hidden in the rolling hills right off of Hemlock Lake, is this more than a century-old, little known secret started by Bishop Bernard McQuaid.
“He was a pioneering soul and could find no grapes for his production of wine, he didn’t have any sacramental wine available, so he decided why not start a vineyard," Will Ouweleen, an Onehda Vineyard and Eagle Crest Vineyards winemaker.
That is until recent events threw it into the spotlight.
“These are the wines that were brought down to New York on Monday,” said Ouweleen.
Onehda Vineyard and Eagle Crest Vineyards Winemaker Will Ouweleen says when he heard Pope Francis would be visiting the U.S., he wanted to make sure he would have authentic and pure sacramental wine for his mass.
“I made the Cardinal an offer I was hoping he couldn’t refuse, and we’re very grateful that he generously did accept our offer,” said Ouweleen.
Along with the sacramental wine, Ouweleen says he traveled to New York City and delivered a few other of their 10 varieties of wine.
“We went down to the Cardinal’s residence and dropped off some of our best cabernet franc, Riesling, and our chardonnay for dinners," Ouweleen said.
But the making of sacramental wine isn’t easy. It must be natural, made from grapes of vine and cannot be corrupt by flavors like sugar or even water. For many Christians, the wine represents the blood of Jesus Christ.
“In the wine world, if you’re in the sacramental business, basically unless Jesus came back himself and threw another party, it doesn’t get any better than for us and our hard work to be used by the Pope and the cardinals in our own state and the Arch-Diocese,” said Ouweleen.
And this is just one reason Ouweleen says he’s inspired to carry on Bishop McQuaid’s vision so many years later.
“That’s pretty sweet I think that the Finger Lakes started basically as a sacramental wine business and all this time later comes full circle. Its’ really great for Finger Lakes wine country to have the pope and other dignitaries enjoy New York wine," Ouweleen said.