Finger Lakes Wine to be Served to Pope Francis During His New York Visit

Photo by Matt Champlin / Getty

During his two-day visit to Manhattan on September 24-25, 2015, the Bishop of Rome will enjoy wines from New York’s celebrated Finger Lakes region, courtesy of O-Neh-Da Vineyard.

Located near Hemlock Lake in the Western Finger Lakes, O-Neh-Da Vineyard is purportedly the oldest dedicated sacramental winery in the United States, founded by the first Bishop of Rochester, New York, Bernard J. McQuaid, in 1872. With 143 years of experience providing wine for Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal and Lutheran churches, O- Neh-Da was well-situated to donate the wine needed for the Celebration of Mass by Pope Francis on September 25 at Madison Square Garden. The mass is expected to draw a crowd of thousands of attendees, who secured tickets via a lottery system. The winery also made a gift of premium Finger Lakes Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc bottles, which will be served to the Pope and other dignitaries at meal times during his official New York visit.

According to Canon Law, wine used for communion must be made with grapes and cannot contain any extraneous substances, such as water, corn syrup, cane or beet sugars.

“I was Jesuit educated, so I had to have the Pope’s back during his visit,” says Winemaker Will Ouweleen of O-Neh-Da, who felt a strong connection to Pope Francis as the first Jesuit to be elected by the College of Cardinals.

“This was me cold-calling the Cardinal’s office and writing them a compelling letter offering to donate all the wine needed for his visit, keeping in the Catholic spirit of generosity,” says Ouweleen. “My motivation is pure: the wine they could have used might have been of suspect legality. And since New York winemaking is sacramental in its roots, this creates a beautiful full circle for the region.”

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Published on September 23, 2015
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