Kosher Barrel of New York Wine is Fortified with Brandy and Blessed by Rector James Cooper
(New York, NY, November 4, 2010) — When Queen Anne gave Trinity Church 250 acres of farmland in 1705, “laying and being on ye Island Manhattans in ye City of New York aforesaid and bounded on the East party by Broadway, partly by the Common and partly be ye Swamp and on ye West by Hudson River” she probably did not expect that 305 years later the Church would be blessing wine from a kosher barrel made on its property.
City Winery, opened in 2008 at 155 Varick Street, is producing wine on the land grant originally bestowed by the Queen. Several months ago, Michael Dorf, the winery’s founder and CEO and Trinity Church’s seventeenth rector, The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper had an informal conversation about the religious traditions of winemaking. An idea took form — a sacramental Communion wine produced on the very land that Queen Anne gave for agriculture purposes, made from a kosher barrel.
“When City Winery was established in Hudson Square, we were pleased to discover the agricultural roots of the community. Creating this sacramental wine for Trinity Church, allows us to honor Queen Anne’s bequest and become part of the rich history of lower Manhattan,” said Mr. Dorf.
“We are delighted that the wine we will use for Communion is being produced just a few blocks from the church,” Dr. Cooper said. “It reflects both a comforting link to a treasured past, as well as Hudson Square’s engaging and creative spirit today,” he said.
For this special and unique project, the winery, which makes about 20% of its production according to Orthodox Jewish law, selected a fermenting barrel of Long Island Sauvignon Blanc grapes crushed on September 21, 2010. At today’s ceremony the kosher seal on the barrel was removed by Michael Dorf, at which point Dr. Cooper, Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee and other members of Trinity Church added grape spirits, fortifying the wine for the next stage of its aging and offered a blessing of thanksgiving. “Vicar’s Vintage” will ready for bottling and ceremonial use by Christmas 2011.
Wine has been used in Judeo-Christian religious ceremonies from the earliest recorded history. Kosher wine, which is prepared according to biblical standards, is often used to celebrate the Eucharist, underscoring the common heritage shared by Christians and Jews over the centuries. Mr. Dorf said he was pleased that the collaboration would send a message about religious tolerance and cooperation that contrasts the recent discord over the Park51 mosque and community center near Ground Zero. “This is something we can do downtown to show that people can work together,” he said.
Reporters from local media, including DNA info, The New York Post, DownTown Express, Tribeca Tribune and Columbia University Press were on hand to cover the event.
City Winery is on its third vintage and ships whole clusters of grapes from California, Oregon, and upstate New York into Manhattan, where the grapes are de-stemmed, crushed, fermented and turned into high-end wine over a period of 8 to 24 months.