Divine Vintage by Randall Heskett and Joel Butler just arrived. I believe this is the most important body of work in modern history to present our past of “following the wine trail from Genesis to the Modern Age” (its subtitle). This is not to discount its Modern Divine Wine Trails. These findings are also very generous. Remember, this is not a religious book, just one that chronicles the role that religion has played along the long and wineding [misspelling is deliberate] way.

Also, not to be missed, the absolute best map ever of Divine Vintage: Biblical Wine World Wine Lands. How I’ve searched to try to put everything into context… At last, we have that pieces of the puzzle, for those of us who can’t get enough scholarly information in visual context.

My own personal history can be traced to a great grandfather (14 generations ago). He was the Reverend William Blackstone, a clergyman who was sent across the Atlantic Ocean in 1623, by King James, to preach his version of the Bible. This was during the time of the Pilgrims coming to the New World to escape religious persecution. (He’s better knows as the man who discovered Boston, Massachusetts.)

Mayflower History

The Pilgrims strongly believed that the Church of England [under King James], and the Catholic Church, had strayed beyond Christ’s teachings, and established religious rituals, and church hierarchies, that went against the teachings of the Bible. This belief put them at odds with church officials, who in the early years of King James I tried to have them arrested and thrown in jail for refusing to participate in church rituals.

William Blackstone, in 1623, didn’t really agree with King James, so he’s now known to been one of the earliest Episcopalian clergymen resident in New England; but, that’s a completely different story. Back to why I even brought this up… As someone who had a family scholar involved in the Bible, you might assume that I’d know something about it. That would be incorrect… I was raised Catholic, and all I can say is that my generation was only fed dogma, and expected to swallow it like it was a big sugar cube. I chocked… Had I been given the Bible, I probably would have followed in my great grandfather’s footstep. When I used to travel about 70,000 miles a year, I had one night where I decided to alter the Gideon Bible in my hotel bedroom, adding an s/ to each he… (s/he) until I fell asleep.

Yeah, I’m that bad, but I’m also that curious to see what the authors before me wrote for their interpretations of what they thought was holy… Especially about wine. Now, when the night is quiet and the business of the day has settled into peaceful everyone-in-suburban-spaces-are-all-in-the-right-places, I pull out this book and explore what Randall and Joel have put forth. It’s fascinating at least, and jammed full of facts that answer a lot of my questions.

Why am I so committed to their every word? Religious credentials:

  • Randall Heskett, PhD – Having studied at Yale and University of Toronto among other institutions, Dr. Randall Heskett is an integrator, who has drawn from his education in counseling, art, nutrition, exercise physiology, ancient Near Eastern languages, Bible, theology, spirituality, wine, and life experiences as an athlete and award winning artist/potter. He has taught at University of Toronto, Queen’s University, McMaster University, United Theological Seminary, Denver Seminary, and Central Buganda University in Uganda. Now President of Boulder University, Randall’s lecture repertoire includes such topics as Bible, theology, wholeness, and even wine. He has published several books.
  • Joel Butler, MW – As one of the first two resident American Masters of Wine (1990), Joel Butler, MW has had a long and varied career in the wine industry. Born in Denver, Colorado around mid-century, Joel Butler graduated from Stanford University, and also received a Masters Degree in European History from the University of Colorado. Shortly after graduation from Stanford, he returned to Europe in the fall of 1972, spending many months visiting wine producing regions, participating in the harvest in Burgundy, and gathering information for an industry organization his father represented. This experience, following on that of attending university in Italy and living within a “wine” culture, led him to return to California in the spring of 1973 and enter the wine trade. Joel has spent over 40 years in the wine trade as a buyer for on and off premise licensees, as an importer and distributor, and more recently as Education Director at Diageo Wines and Ste Michelle Wine Estates. He has also been a highly regarded wine judge, with experience at the International Wine Challenge in London, the Decanter World Wine Awards, various Australian Show judgings, the San Diego National Wine Competition, Dallas Morning News Competition, Seattle Wine Awards, San Francisco International Wine Competition and the California State Fair.

That’s just for starters, boys and girls.

I’m committed to this book and will be writing more about it as I go along. Forever, I’ve been very interested in what the Bible has to say about wine, but it’s been sketchy with my having to get to many books to find anything worth quoting. Now, I’ve got the anthology of anthologies… A must for any wine (book) library.

Most importantly… I also want to get into the “now,” the modern Divine Wine Trails….

These two scholars have a very important body of work that graces my wine library. I’m honored to be reading it, and it’s  not the last you’ll hear about it from me. The holidays are coming, and if you’ve got a wine lover who seeming has everything, unless you can give them a 1945 Margot, this is “the” gift.

UPDATE: After I launched this story into the Ethernet, Joel had this to share with me about people he would like to see reading the book “[People] reading it with an open, curious mind and realizing it is not a religious piece, but solid historical, as well as providing the most up to date ( in one place) look at today’s best emerging wine producers in the ‘ancient world’!  ”


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