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Catholic Voice
May 18, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 10   •   Oakland, CA
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Bishop's Vineyard launches wine club

Joe Rivello

Bishop's Vineyard, which began in 2006 by planting grape vines on empty cemetery land to make wines, is launching a wine club that will allow registrants to purchase wines at a discount, the net proceeds of which will support various Catholic charities.

Bishop's Vineyard, a business unit of Catholic cemeteries, is making both a premium line and bulk wines. Premium, oak-aged wines are available to wine club members, as is a rosé altar wine.

Generally, the bulk wines are given free to diocesan parishes for use as altar wine, said Joe Rivello, director of winery operations. About half the parishes are using the bishop's wines.

About 16 acres of various grape varieties have been planted at three diocesan cemeteries — the plan was to beautify open cemetery grounds and cut maintenance costs.

Production was about 1,000 cases in 2014. "We can get more, maybe another 1,000 cases," from existing cemetery property, Rivello said. "On some of the acreage, the deer go in and eat the grapes."


All that Jazz

When: Sept. 12

What: An tasting evening of wine tasting and music, with Stephanie Trick, a ragtime and jazz pianist, along with her husband Paolo Alderighi.

Bishop's Vineyard

For more information:

Wine Club

Wine Program


“I think what we have is a compelling story," Rivello said, and "The wines taste very good."

Wines are priced from $7.99 to $36.99, and are currently not available at retail outlets, only through the wine club, which will ship purchases to members' homes each quarter. Purchases are not tax deductible by wine club members. Profits to the wine club will support numerous charities and fundraisers, such as the endowment fund for tuition assistance that is a part of the diocesan Capital Campaign and, which will aid needy students wishing to attend Catholic schools.

“There is a cost to get established," Rivello said. "We hope to generate enough to cover our costs.

"It may take three years, maybe less," he said. "We have good potential … if we had 500 people in the wine club, we could conceivably make enough to donate."

Details of wine club membership, bulk purchases by parishes outside the diocese and charitable groups are available on the website, bishopsvineyard.org.

Wine Club members will receive invitations to VIP events and tastings throughout the year.

"A lot of people want to taste the wines before they buy," Rivello said, and Bishop's Vineyard is exploring various tasting events.

Some tastings and events have already taken place, said Kevin F. Sherwood, marketing specialist at Catholic Cemeteries.

A Sept. 12 tasting is planned at Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill, sponsored jointly with the Knights of Columbus. The time and ticket price for the event is to be developed, Sherwood said, but will include wine tasting and a very entertaining jazz concert.

"We expect wine club events to grow," Sherwood said, "and are actively seeking appropriate/exclusive restaurants and retail outlets for locations that the bishop's wines can be purchased.

"The first phase was getting all the licenses in place and completing an appropriate website, along with creating a series of new labels," he said. "We are now starting to bottle for Fall Wine Club release and sales."

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