Sacramental Wine: Fruit of the Earth
O’Boyle, Edward J.
No 321854, Working Papers from American Association of Wine Economists
Among the Jewish people wine has been a symbol of joy and so significant in their sacred rituals that on feast days they were obligated to see that everyone regardless of means was provided for. Among Christians wine in abundance dates from the marriage feast at Cana. In the following we address sacramental wine from a secular perspective. Our efforts are intended to answer the following questions. What types and brands of sacramental wine are produced, who are the producers, and how much do they charge? What procedures are used by the Roman Catholic Church to validate the wine for use at Mass? How is the wine marketed and distributed? It’s not so much the technology behind the process that differentiates wine for sacramental use from wine for secular use. It’s the people and their connectedness to the end use of the wine. Our research leads to three principal conclusions. First, the production of sacramental wine is in the hands of five vineyards and wineries that likely will remain in production for some time to come: Cribari, Joseph Filippi, Mont La Salle, O-Neh-Da, and San Antonio. Second, the distribution of altar wine through Catholic supply stores also appears to the assured for years to come, though some may fail under competitive pressure from direct sales, supermarkets, and other wine-specialty stores. Third, retail prices today for sacramental wines and mustum are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $60 to $80 per case. Our research leads to three unanswered issues. First, do all wines labeled “altar wine” or “sacramental wine” comply with the Church’s validation specifications? Second, how big is the market for sacramental wine? Third, which winery is the oldest producer of sacramental wine?
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