Connect with history, winemaking

by Therese Porod, News Editor

Greg Munie cares for the Abby garden on Sunday, April 14, 2013 Photo by Mike Krueger

Greg Munie cares for the Abby garden on Sunday, April 14, 2013
Photo by Mike Krueger

Taking a walk around St. Procopius Abbey, the sounds of the birds and the wind brushing through the trees makes a person feel at peace. Around the property, an individual can observe a farm-like atmosphere, with a garden, an orchard, beehives, and a vineyard.

The vineyard was created between 1890 and 1900, making it over 100 years old. Brother George Popvich and Brother Joe Besley were originally the caretakers of the vineyard, and mentors to Greg Munie, current caretaker of the vineyard and part of the Oblate Formation Program.

“Oblate means to give,” explained Munie, and this is his way of living out the Oblate Formation Program. Brother George and Brother Joe taught Munie everything he knows about the vineyard, and when they passed away, Munie kept the vineyard alive and prosperous.

The vineyard currently contains 250 vines, but two to three vines were lost during the winter season. The flowering season occurs when the weather is around 60 degrees, but if there is a frost, the crop will be lost, explained Munie. There are many different types of grapes grown in the vineyard, producing 2,500 pounds, which is an estimated 150 gallons of wine, according to Munie.

“I love teaching the class,” said Munie. In the fall, Munie teaches a winemaking class, in which students have the opportunity to make wine, utilizing the vineyard at the Abbey. Students learn the process of making wine, including harvesting the grapes to crushing and then pressing them. The students will use the same wine press that was used in 1893.

One activity that is part of the class is rooting the vine, in which vines are hung and grown back into the soil, explained Munie. After making the wine, students then create their own personal label for their wine.

When asked about his favorite part of the vineyard, Munie responded by saying “shhh,” indicating to listen to the peaceful sounds of nature and most importantly to the quiet.

Munie will be teaching the class in the fall of 2013. He went on to explain that they are also looking for students who need service hours to volunteer at the vineyard and help maintain other parts of the grounds as well.