From Christ’s first miracle at the Wedding at Cana to being made into the blood of the New Covenant at the Last Supper, wine is woven into the fabric of our Salvation History and a favorite of Catholics. When you enjoy a glass of wine, here’s why you need to thank Saint Vincent of Saragossa (and his donkey).
“No one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'” – Luke 5:39
For almost ten thousand years, grapes have been fermented to create wine, but it wasn’t until Saint Vincent of Saragossa came along that the vintner had pruning in his horticultural repertoire – without pruning wine might not be the same as we know it today.
Catholic pious tradition holds that Saint Vincent of Saragossa and his donkey were wandering the countryside, when he arrived at a vineyard. As he walked and chatted with the workers, his donkey nibbled on nearby grape vines and ate all the young shoots, reducing the limbs to stubs.
The following harvest, the workers noticed vines “pruned” by Saint Vincent’s donkey gave an excellent harvest and better grapes compared to the “unpruned” vines. For discovering the now ubiquitous art of pruning, Saint Vincent of Saragossa was made the patron of winemakers. His feast day is January 22nd, coinciding with the mid-point between winter dormancy and bud break when vintners and the vines are at rest.
For the winemaker of Saint Vincent’s time, learning how to prune their vines let them grow more grapes and make more wine. His discovery in the 4th century led to the booming wine industry we know today, with over 6.5 billion gallons are consumed yearly worldwide.