News Detail
A Jesuit novice works in the vineyards surrounding the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, Calif., in 1965. Photos courtesy of the California Province Jesuit Archives.
"The first hour you'd pick the grapes in silence, while you prayed."
—Jesuit Bishop Michael Barber
For Almost a Century, Jesuit Novices Labored at Historic Novitiate Winery

October 2, 2013 — Jesuit novices at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos, Calif., not only lived and prayed together, but they also worked together in the vineyards surrounding the novitiate from 1888 to 1986.

The Novitiate Winery was built by the Jesuits from Santa Clara College (now Santa Clara University), and each fall, the novices would harvest grapes for the winery. At one time, they picked enough fruit to produce 150,000 gallons of wine each year. 

Although some wine was sold commercially, the majority of it, especially during Prohibition, was altar wine used for sacramental purposes. The Novitiate Winery was best known for its fortified Black Muscat dessert wine, which was a perennial gold medal winner at the California State Fair.

Due to the competetive marketplace, the winery closed in 1986, and the novitiate has since moved to Culver City, Calif., but memories remain. Photographer Margaret Bourke-White captured the novices in action in 1953, and her photos of Jesuit novices picking grapes in cassocks were published in Life magazine and in her book, “A Report on the American Jesuits.” In more recent years, Jesuit Bishop Michael Barber picked grapes as a novice and recalled his time in the vineyards:

"We loved it. It was eight hours of hard manual labor every day. Some of us were city boys — we mowed the lawn, you helped your dad build a fence — but I'd never done that. … They put our whole class, all 25 guys, in the back of the truck, wearing our denim, and drove up into the fields … We'd pick the grapes. It's where we got to know each other. The first hour you'd pick the grapes in silence, while you prayed. … They'd blow a whistle and then you could talk the rest of the day. We took our lunch there, sitting on the vines with views of the Bay Area." 

In 2005, Testarossa Vineyards reopened the winery and brought back the Novitiate label, which graced the original bottles. A portion of the sale of these wines are donated to the California Province’s retirement facility at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center. [California ProvinceTestarossa Winery]


Recent News

May 20, 2015 — The vocational call came early for Jesuit Father Jonathan Haschka — when he was just a freshman at his Jesuit high school.

May 18, 2015 — Nearly 300 Jesuits will gather at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles this June — all Canadian and U.S. Jesuits currently in formation and their provincials.

May 12, 2015 — Jesuits are responding to the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and has killed over 4,000 people.

May 15, 2015 — Tiny, a three-legged golden retriever born with a deformed right front leg, has a new prosthetic leg thanks to a computer science class at Xavier University.

May 13, 2015 — Jesuit Father Richard McGowan is nicknamed “Padre Pecado” — the “Priest of Sin” — due to his status as a leading expert on the economics of alcohol and gambling.

May 12, 2015 — Last year, 21 Jesuits in Canada and the U.S. were called to final vows, and many took the opportunity to reflect on the greatest blessing of their Jesuit vocation.

May 11, 2015 — Nativity Preparatory School, a Jesuit middle school, has transformed the lives of young men with a tuition-free, first-class education since its founding in 1990.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America - 5/25/15-6/1/15

America - 5/18/15

America - 5/11/15



Ignatian Spirituality Center
The Ignatian Spirituality Center of Kansas City offers programs in Ignatian prayer and retreats and trains lay people as spiritual directors and retreat guides.