Traditional Blessing of the Harvest at Concannon Reminds me of the real reason I enjoy PR… The Humility Factor

Steeped in Viticultural history that dates back to the days of the Gold Rush, Livermore Valley just blessed their harvest last Friday (September 19, 2008) at Concannon Vineyard. Concannon was established in 1886 by James Concannon, and last Friday James Concannon’s grandson Jim Concannon, Jim’s siblings, his wife Helen, their children, and grandchildren were all present.

[An ecumenical blessing, the Concannon grandchildren are part of the ceremony as fifth generation Concannons.]

Blessing of the vines in spring, and the blessing of harvest in autumn is a tradition that dates back in antiquity… Asking the gods for a bountiful season in the spring, and then thanking the gods for what was delivered, no doubt began with someone watching a seed sprouting, then following its path. It is what it is… Being grateful and then thankful… The completely humbling cycle of life.

[Pictured is John Concannon cutting the vine entrance, while father Jim Concannon – behind John – guides the proceedings.]

What was significant for this particular blessing, is that Concannon has just completed a $30 million renovation, and the winery was therefore letting go of the last 125 years, in order to embrace the next 125 years. This was truly a monumental milestone, not enjoyed by many in California.

[Above image was taken in their new barrel room. A tour is being conducted for media by their global winemaker Adam Richardson.]

If you’re reading this and you live on the East Coast, this 125 years seems less significant for marking time, because many of us measure our US roots with European benchmarks. Our US history, as it relates to European migration, is from the Puritanical migration of the 1600s, while those who are native West Coasters mark their roots with the Gold Rush migration in the 1800s.

Recently I was talking to Dave Pramuk, one of the partners for Robert Biale Vineyards, who is one of my PS I Love You board members. When I was telling Dave that my great grandfather (seven times removed) was William Blackstone, who was sent to America by King James to preach the King James Version of the Bible, and ended up settling Boston in the 1600s, Dave’s expression was classic… almost one of disbelief. Because I’m a New Englander, I can traced my American roots to the mid 1600s. Native Californians mostly trace their roots beginning with the Gold Rush, as is the Concannon family’s legacy.

[Pictured left to right, wine industry historian Charles Sullivan (e.g.,
A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present), Roz Sullivan, West Coast editor of Wine Enthusiat Magazine Steve Heimoff, and Jose Diaz, my husband/partner.]

Fast forward to last weekend, we all watched the Jim and Helen Concannon family gather around as Jim Concannon’s grandfather James Concannon watched from on high. It was a gorgeous day, and one that filled Jim Concannon’s heart with great pride.

At the end of it all, Jim shot over an Email to me that read,

Hi Jo,
It was good seeing you and Jose at the Anniversary ceremony last Friday.
I appreciate both of you being there. A big milestone in our family’s life!

For me, this is the humility factor. Jim had many guests, most of whom were friends and family. It could have been a day that just happened, and we all moved on. Instead, it was a typical day for Jim Concannon… One that was filled with great thanks, which included his usual follow-up “thank yous.”

Jim Concannon, for me, defines the humility factor. I’m his publicist, not someone that he has to send a thank you note to, but he wouldn’t be Jim Concannon if he didn’t thank everyone.

It’s such an honor to be part of his life.

2 Responses to “Traditional Blessing of the Harvest at Concannon Reminds me of the real reason I enjoy PR… The Humility Factor”

  1. deirdre frontczak says:

    No mention of the priest or other clergy shown performing the blessing. Who is that garbed man celebrating the event? Why no name.?

  2. Jose says:

    I wasn’t given the priest’s name, and was too busy to ask. I’m jounaling, I’m not a journalist. If I were a journalist, I would have asked. Journaling has more freedom attached to it, and no one to answer to.

Leave a Reply