logo
g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Career
Computers
Education
Family
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
Money
News & Politics
Relationships
Religion & Spirituality
Sports
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

dailyclick
Bored? Games!
Nutrition
Postcards
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

new
European Travel
Action Movies
Bible Basics
Houseplants
Romance Movies
Creativity
Family Travel


dailyclick
All times in EST

Clairvoyance: 08:00 PM

Full Schedule
g
g Wine Site

BellaOnline's Wine Editor

g

New Clairvaux Vineyards 800 Year Old Building





“This is the oldest building in America,” said the guide proudly. I didn’t think so but was too absorbed to say anything as I stared in wonder at the beautiful arched roof and ran my hands over the pale yellow ancient limestone blocks of the walls. This 800 year old Spanish Trappist Chapter House was an amazing sight, seeming out of place on a warm California day surrounded by walnut trees and vineyards.

But it wasn’t really out of place because it was standing in the grounds of a Cistercian monastery, and had been erected by the Trappist monks of New Clairvaux Abbey in Tehama County, California.

We’d overnighted in Corning on Interstate 5, about 170 miles north of San Francisco. A motel tourist leaflet suggested wine tasting at New Clairvaux Vineyards, about 10 miles away so we decided to visit after breakfast before resuming our journey.

With minutes of leaving the freeway behind us we were driving through farmland and over a wide lazy river to the small town of Vina, population 237.

The winery tasting room opened at 10:00am and we arrived there about ten past. Puzzingly we seemed to be expected and were shown into a side room where a small group, including a priest, sat on armchairs and sofas. It came clear to me that we had been mistaken for couple on a pre-booked tour. We didn’t say anything and neither did anyone else and after a few minutes the missing couple came in and a guide welcomed us. She told us that the workers we’d driven past clearing roadside bushes were Trappist monks, that we were in the grounds of a monastery and Abbey of the Cistercian Order.

In stead of going into the winery as I expected, we were led out and across to a large structure; a modern elevated roof sheltered a 800 year old Chapter House that had been shipped in pieces from Spain in the 1930’s by William Randolph Hearst. Because of the Depression Hearst had never reconstructed it and the stones had been passed around and ended in the Golden Gate Bridge park, exposed to the elements, vandalised and stolen.

In 1955 a young monk travelling to join New Clairvaux had one free day to see the sights of San Francisco and when he heard about the stones he determined to rescue them and re-erect the building.

As you’d imagine, it wasn’t a simple task and a lot of time had to pass and money to be raised. Hearst had needed eleven ships to transfer the stones to San Francisco, but he’d not taken all the buildings stones, just the key ones and those that had been carved. In their time in the USA some had been taken to shore up lake banks, others had been damaged or were missing. And the paint marks meant to aid reconstruction had faded away.

To reassemble the building old photographs and plans were examined to work out where the surviving stones fitted. New stones had to be found and carved where needed.

Now this magnificent building, originally built between 1190 and 1220 near Madrid, Spain, at the command of Alfonso VIII, King of Castile, will become the Abbey’s church when construction is finished.

Helping fund the work is the Abbey’s winery, so after this serendipitous diversion I headed back to the
tasting room
.

Notes: According to Wikipedia the oldest existing buildings in the USA are pueblo settlements in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah dating from 750AD. The oldest known building in the Americas is Sechin Bajo in Peru.

The Chapter House may freely be seen in the ground of New Clairaux in Vina which is about ten miles pleasant drive eastwards from Corning exit 630 on Interstate 5. See www.sacredstones.org and www.newclairvaux.org


Have you visited New Clairvaux? Tell us on our forum.




Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape, also available for the Kindle and Apple iPad.








Entrance to Chapter House

Entrance to Chapter House



Inside the Chapter House

Inside the Chapter House



Vaulted Roof

Vaulted Roof




Exterior End of Chapter House

Exterior End of Chapter House



Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to Twitter Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to Facebook Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to MySpace Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to Del.icio.us Digg New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to Yahoo My Web Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to Google Bookmarks Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to Stumbleupon Add New+Clairvaux+Vineyards+800+Year+Old+Building to Reddit




New Clairvaux Wines
RSS
Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map


For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Wine Newsletter


Past Issues


print
Printer Friendly
bookmark
Bookmark
tell friend
Tell a Friend
forum
Forum
email
Email Editor


Content copyright © 2014 by Peter F May. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Peter F May. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Peter F May for details.

g


g features
North Carolina Wines

Why Wine Labels Have a Variety Name

Biltmore Estate, North Carolina

Archives | Site Map

forum
Forum
email
Contact

Past Issues
memberscenter


vote
Poetry
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Less than Monthly



BellaOnline on Facebook
g


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2014 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.


BellaOnline Editor