Planting grass costs at $50,000/acre, so grapevines at $17,000 acre were planted 10 years ago at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in an East Bay suburb of San Francisco.
“I wasn’t going into the wine business. I was thinking of the nice foliage,” said Robert Seelig, the chief executive of Catholic Management Services, which oversees the diocese cemeteries. He also thought about “the body and blood of Christ."
In 2013, church officials approached Shauna Rosenblum of Rock Wall Wine Company to process the cemetery grapes for altar wine, which need not be “that good.”...That first year they put all the cemetery grapes into a press to make rosé. But they were amazed when they evaluated some of the fruit. The chardonnay and pinot noir grapes from the Hayward cemetery were of “outstanding quality,” Mr. Ryan said. And the cabernet and zinfandel grapes from the nearby Holy Cross Cemetery were “fantastic.”
“It was kind of like Jesus’ miracle when he made water into wine,” said Bishop Michael C. Barber of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, which oversees 16 acres of grapes at this cemetery and two others. He became the bishop in 2013, when the wine was called Cathedral of Christ the Light before church officials came up with Bishop’s Vineyard, a snappier label for a larger market.
This year, a Bishop’s Vineyard cabernet sauvignon won a silver medal at the Monterey International Wine Competition. Its cabernet and zinfandel won silver medals in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
And so the cemetery wines have become a start-up business. Unlike most, it is a nonprofit, giving most of its products — 7,200 bottles of altar wine — to 45 churches. It has donated $35,000 in scholarships to parochial schools. Like most start-ups, it is not yet turning a profit, but the church is investing in the wine business and expects to break even this year. The annual costs run up to $150,000. Mr. Seelig considers it a good investment.
For an additional $1,000, a family can have a loved one buried near the chardonnay vines glistening in the sun, or if they prefer, near the pinot noir vines....“It’s like dynamic pricing of a baseball game,” Mr. Seelig said.
“At our cathedral gift shop, we sell rosaries, statues of Mary and, oh, by the way, bottles of our wine,” Bishop Barber said.
It’s no secret that wine is a strong, consistent symbol in Catholic culture. From the wedding in Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine, to the consecration of wine into the Blood of Christ during mass, it has been connected to the Church since it was formed. In fact, it was Franciscan friars who first introduced wine grapes to California in the late 1700s. Wine and faith in Christ seem to go hand in hand.
I’ve listened to a lot of people die, and take it from me, people don’t slip away quietly like they do on screen, with one last longing look and a soft sigh of disappointed resignation. There are, of course, some quiet deaths—dying in one’s sleep is something many of us hope for. But the body is built to fight, and even in the most exhausted of frames, it can kick up a racket on its way out. It’s not polite. It doesn’t ask permission. It rattles and gasps and wheezes like an accordion being run over by a tractor-trailer. It fights with the bouncer and hurls epithets over its shoulder as it’s carried out.
I’ve worked 911 for seventeen years as the first of the first responders. I’m the person who tells you how to do CPR when you see a guy drop in front of Starbucks, when no one else wants to help, when you can’t remember one single thing you learned in that class you took before you had your first kid.
I’ve heard so many people die that sometimes I can tell the person is dying before the caller does. That fish-gasp-snore sound (called agonal breathing) is the reason CPR is sometimes started too late to help.
“Ma’am,” I say. “He’s not getting enough oxygen. I’m going to tell you how to do CPR.”
“Oh, I can’t do that. He’s still breathing, can’t you hear that snoring? Just get here!”
But I can tell by the sound that he’s not snoring, he’s actually dying, and without immediate intervention he won’t make it. It’s up to me and only me to convince the eighty-year-old woman that she’s strong enough to pull her husband off the bed in order to get him on a flat surface (You can’t do compressions on a bed. Pull the sheet he’s lying on. Don’t worry about the fall is what I say. You can’t hurt a dead man is what I don’t say). It’s up to me to convince the seventeen-year-old girl to give mouth-to-mouth to a friend who’s overdosed, even when the caller is high as hell and doesn’t want to get anywhere near the stuff coming out of her friend’s mouth. It’s up to me to tell the mother how to cut down her son who’s hung himself with a rope made from his stepfather’s ties in case there’s still oxygen lingering in his blood. Speed. Now. The faster, the better. The more convincing I can be, the better chance the person has of being revived.
Once I took a call for a 103-year-old woman who stopped breathing while at a family birthday party. Her great-grandson did perfect CPR—I could hear the sound her chest made as he did compressions in exactly the right rhythm. All the while, he panted and muttered, “Come on, Grandma, you can make it. Come on, Grandma. You can do this.” Behind him, the whole family cheered them both on. I was listening to a house full of hope. A home full of love.
I don’t know if Grandma made it or not. I’m guessing she didn’t, but what a gift, to be 103 years old and your family’s still not ready to let you go.
A North Carolina woman was shocked when she looked into a used freezer she bought and found parts of a dead body inside.
“My heart was in my throat and I ran outside, called 911,” said the woman, who asked that she not be identified. “I have a serious problem. My neighbor sold me a deep freezer. I just opened it and there’s a body in there I think,” she told the 911 dispatcher. “I am freaking out.”
The woman did allow CBS North Carolina cameras into her apartment Tuesday to see where she had kept the deep freezer for the three weeks before opening it and making the gruesome discovery. The woman said she bought the freezer from her neighbor, but that she didn’t immediately open it because that neighbor told her it was being used as a “time capsule.” “A church was supposed to come, pick up the items inside the freezer. I was supposed to get the freezer back. The church never came. I decided to open it,” the freezer buyer said.
Police confirmed the human remains were found Friday inside 1723-B Holly Street in Goldsboro. The woman who discovered it said she believes it was the body of the neighbor’s elderly mother inside the freezer.
“She sold me her frozen mother for $30. How do you do something like that??” the woman said.
On June 1, remains were positively identified by the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office. The woman’s death was determined to be natural and with no signs of foul play. Goldsboro police are investigating the incident as felony concealing or failing to notify the death of a person.
A ghost tour party exploring a spooky graveyard got a real case of the willies when they found themselves in the middle of a porn film shoot.
The tourists were examining the inscriptions on the slabs at the graveyard on the south side of Sculcoates Lane, Hull, when they heard groans coming from further down the path. When they went to investigate they were stunned to find a young woman having sex with a man in a patch of ivy. Two other men were so busy filming the broad daylight romp with video cameras, they did not realise they had an audience.
Ghost guide Mike Covell said: "It was the couple who saw us first. They were going at it like knives among the ivy. She was a blonde. We looked at her and she looked at us. Then she pushed the bloke off her. The guy ran after her desperately trying to protect his privates from the brambles. We did not know where to look. Good job all 12 people on the tour were adults because sometimes kids come along.
"One elderly man was so incensed, he was ready to chase after them with his walking stick but I persuaded him to calm down and eat his sandwiches."
The graveyard dates from the 1840s and the last burial took place in 1959. It is now overgrown and reputed to be haunted by ghostly monks and the spirits of children whose bones were disturbed during redevelopment of part of the site. Only three graves are still tended by loved ones, volunteers say.
The ivy was allowed to grow over the tomb stones to protect them from frost but also allowed the porn crew to sneak in.
The graveyard is owned by the Diocese of York but the running of it was taken over by the community in 2007.
Lorna Walker, who chairs Sculcoates Neighbourhood Association, said: "We find this very distasteful. But it is a public place and there is not a lot you can do apart from lock the gates. But then no one would get the benefit of it - we do bat walks and all kinds of positive things down there.
"This is the first time I have heard of anything this. There are always people in society who will push the boundaries. The cemetery has a rich history. Philip Larkin used to ride his bike through it. So we all hope this is a one off."