Papal Pour: Finger Lakes Wine Procures Prestigious Placement for Pope’s NY Visit


We knew that New York’s Finger Lakes wines were good, but fit for the Pope? Apparently so. 
New York’s famed wine region has taken its notoriety to another level this past week when it was announced that wines from the verdant region were the tipple of choice for Pope Francis’ visit to New York City this past weekend. 
O-Neh-Da Vineyard is the lucky winner of this honor, and, according to, was scheduled to be served at a communion ceremony during the Pope’s visit to New York City.
Exactly how the wine was selected for the visit was a story in itself.
According to the church’s canonical law, the wine used in a papal communion ceremony must be pure grape with no traces of any “admixture of extraneous substances,” water or sugar. 
Will Ouweleen, winemaker at O-Neh-Da, saw the marketing (and honorable) potential of the pope’s visit and attempted to take his winery to holy heights by contacting the office of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. Ouweleen’s offer was accepted. 
He delivered the sacramental wine in person, My Twin Tiers reported. Though the holy wine didn’t contain any sugar, Ouweleen sweetened the deal by bringing a bevy of gift wines including Finger Lakes Riesling, Cab Franc and Chardonnay.  The gift wines were intended to be served at a dignitaries’ dinner. 
Ouweleen was quoted as saying that the selection of his wines for the sacerdotal sacrament was a “great honor.”
The winemaker had no qualms about leveraging the Communion, and perhaps rightly so. The touch one’s wine to the lips of the world’s most recognizable religious figure is more than religious gold – it’s a chance to have your wine become an international celebrity. 
As such, the home page of Oh-Neh-Da’s mobile site features a simple graphic. A black square surrounds a golden chalice which, it is assumed, is a replica of the cup which the Pope used to quaff his Communion wine. 
The graphic includes three statements. First, “Authentic Sacramental Wine”. Second, “100% Pure Grape, New York State.” Third, “Vineyard Est. 1872, Liturgically Approved.”
A report by WXXI News pointed out that Oh-Neh-Da was fitting not just because it creates natural wines which meet canonical standards, but also because the winery was founded by a bishop long ago after the end of the Civil War. 
“And, to this day, through the grace of God alone,” Ouweleen was quoted as saying, “we continue to operate as a dedicated sacramental winery.” 
Photo Credit: Pixabay

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