Shepherding Sunlight into Wine!
The famous scientist and philosopher, Galileo Galilei, once remarked, “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
Yet, the making of wine does not take place without human intervention.
There is an art and science that is involved in the successful of “shepherding of sunlight into wine.”
And that's especially what the monks in the old Burgundian wine making tradition saw themselves as doing.
For the most part, in human history, the making of wine has taken place through agricultural workers who also tended sheep.
However, the ancient monks made major advances in perfecting the art of making wine.
As spiritual counselors, they saw themselves as shepherds in a dual sense (e.g. the Latin noun pastor means shepherd).
For example, in overseeing the cultivating of grape vines and making wine, the monks saw themselves being shepherds working in nature to progressively perfect it.
They were not anti-science or non interventionists. Rather, their working mantra was "grace elevates nature."
Through occasional intervention, they would gently guide the grapes into their divine destiny of being made into world class wine.
Wine shepherds viewed the making of quality wine in light of the sun being the mystical source of energy for both the earth and the cultivating of vines.
Galileo was known to have also said, “The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”
The ancient monks viewed the sun as working its primal magic deep down into the earth.
They would actually taste the soil from where the grapes would grow.
Through that process they discerned what type of soil to grow future vines in. “What are the roots biting into?” they would ask themselves.
“What are my roots biting into?”
That was a question that the monks also asked as they reflected on the roots of their lives being integrated into a robust human community.
They would ask introspective questions such as, "Are those I hang around with helping or hindering in the flourishing of life?"
What the monks did with their own introspection is good for us to ponder today, especially while sipping wine.
For example, who you spend your time with has a great impact on your life.
There are people who will inspire us and make us better.
However, if you spend too much time with the wrong people you won’t meet the right people. You’ll get stuck.
As the modern saying goes, “You can’t hang out with chickens and expect to soar like eagles!”
Your friends should be sharpening you, making you better and more fruitful.
Wine shepherding, like what we do at Kinship winery, is meant to bring out the best expression of grapes grown in the light of the sun.
But soul shepherding, is even more important than the art of making wine. It is what we all should be doing with ourselves and with each other as we work towards making the world a better place.
"Let the sunshine in!" It's a good philosophy for both soul care and the making of a great wine.
Jess Knauft, Owner/Wine Shepherd (Kinship Winery)