Sunday, June 20, 2021

John the Apostle Talks with Jesus: On Water, Natural Winemaking and Large Gatherings

  From the archives

One of the most misunderstood winemakers in all of time is Jesus Christ. After his miracle at the marriage feast of Cana, criticisms of his wine style stirred the temple. Jesus, a man born to love, was reviled. But what about his wine? Was it the ultimate supernatural wine?

Jesus’ mercurial behavior, like the time he went ballistic in the marketplace, have contributed to his reputation as a flesh and blood being, only to be balanced with the events at Cana and subsequent actions with Lazarus.

Criticism of Jesus seems to outpace his actions, many of which have changed history. Denial of his importance in the world of wine and natural winemaking, especially, was common throughout the Roman Empire. After winemaking shifted to Italy, it was as if Jesus the winemaker never existed.

Jesus made a contribution to the world of wine, natural or otherwise. His actions in Cana brought interest to wine in a way that had not existed at such a level before.

I was lucky enough to discover an unknown Gnostic tract, in which John the Apostle, friend of Jesus had transcribed an encounter with Jesus before his death. The words of John the Apostle and Jesus Christ have traveled through two millennia through the “dimension of the imagination" to share with folks in the 21st century, "submitted for your consideration."

John the Apostle Talks with Jesus

John: I always wondered what liquids symbolize to you. You can’t find anything about it in the ancient literature. So let’s get down to it. You seem to have this affinity for water and wine. Everywhere you went, as a child, you and your mom Mary were seen carrying it, you walked on it, even changed it to wine. What’s up with that?

Jesus: Well, as you know John, unless you lived in Rome and were a Senator or Caesar, most folks didn’t have running water in their homes, so mom would take me to help her gather it. It got me out of the house and the workshop with all that dust. I suffered from allergies from my early childhood in Egypt, and mom thought it best I get a lot of clean air. And the water thing just snowballed from there.

John: Did you train as a winemaker?

Jesus: My dad, Joseph, was a carpenter and he wanted me to follow his tradition, but we had that talk about my Father’s business. I’m sure it’s the same talk every son has with his dad at some point. He was disappointed, of course, but Mary seemed to assure him that it was OK. The wine thing came later, and mother was really instrumental in that development.

John: How so?

Jesus: Well, everyone wanted to please mother, she was such a saint. And we’re at this wedding party and she senses things aren’t going well. The music, the food, the wine, I don’t remember. At the time Mary Magdalen was teaching me to dance. I was born with two left feet. Anyway, mother comes up to me and tells me to come to the wine cellar. Here I was, staring at these large amphorae. And then it was like lightning, it just hit me, to make some wine. Right then, right there.

John: And what came from that exercise?

Jesus: I remember learning about wine near the temple. There were merchants always bustling around the town square near where the temple stood. And one day I got talking to these wine brokers from Chaldea, they were on their way to Egypt. And they told me about this tradition of winemaking that had been going on for centuries and how the Egyptians absolutely loved these wines. I got to taste a little of the wine and I never forgot how they made such an impression on me. They were heady, robust, I almost felt guilty in the pleasure the wine gave me. It was my first encounter with anything hedonistic. But one of the rabbis saw me and came over and shut things down immediately. He sent me home to mom and dad and mom told me I should probably spend more time with dad. I put my winemaking ambitions on the back burner until that wedding in Cana.

John: Can you tell me a little something about your technique?

Jesus: Well, in those days, all we had was the amphora. So I was stuck with that. But I really sought to make a wine that while natural in most ways had a special quality. Some people called it in those days, supernatural, although to this day I never understood what they meant. It was either Thomas or Judas who accused me of too much intervention and over-extraction. But I like rich wines. To me wine is like blood, it needs to be red and rich and solid. Crossing the desert as a baby, my mom worried all the time that I was anemic. And it must have stuck with me, to create a style that would have my imprimatur.

John: Well you did that. Your first vintage straight out of the chute was one of your best. Where did you go from there?

Jesus: About that time I came into contact with a Roman Centurion who had property in Italy, in Campania, and he was sharing ideas about wine with me from his farm. Apparently he made a wine there that the Senators in Rome really liked. But he was always trying to find a deeper expression, a way to break out of his normal routine. We talked at length. I like to think I made an impression on him.

John: You must have. Word from the future has it that wine in Italy became a pretty big thing.

Jesus: Yes, I have stressed to Peter that when he moves to Italy he needs to make sure wine is part of the new religion, a big part. Attendance at the temple was always a problem for the rabbis. My thought is if we give the churchgoers a little free bread and some good wine, we could make bigger churches (than the temples) and fill the places up. I understand from those same sources in the future that it worked out pretty well.

John: Yes it did. Changing the subject, have you read any good books lately?

Jesus: No, but I’m working on a whole set of new chapters for the one everyone around here seems to read. I want the chapters to reflect the new thinking. But really, I am busy running around the Holy Land, trying to keep up with the news, the changes and digging up old friends.

John: And what about this food and wine thing? Anything to it?

Jesus: Well we tried with that big outdoor event we did with the loaves and the fishes, but the red wine just didn’t seem to go over well. I think the wine was too big for the fish. I have a big food event coming up soon. I think it will be on a Thursday, with the other Apostles. You’re invited. We’re going to try and match the wine with more fitting foods. It should be a pretty historic event

John: I really enjoy that local show, with Pontius Pilate. I like when he asks his guests something like, “Do you think God has a special code for us to unlock to get into Heaven?”

Jesus: I have pretty much left the business of Heaven to the Man upstairs. I have my job to do on Earth and that has been daunting enough. I think of the winemaking sideline as a way to connect with the people here on Earth. And it’s a lot of fun having a hobby. But when my time comes (and I hope it isn’t too soon) I’d love to sit at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. But I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready or deserving.

John: No doubt. I kinda don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

Jesus: Yeah, although lately God has been acting funny with me. It’s like He wants to tell me something but doesn’t know how to say it. I think He wants me to do something special for Him.

John: Maybe this winemaking thing is a jumping off point for the next chapter.

Jesus: Who knows? He is always so mysterious when we talk.

John: Any regrets?

Jesus: I’m really bummed I never wrapped my head around sweet wines. I think they are going to be big in the new millennia, especially in Rome. And lively white wines, you know the ones that kind of tingle when you sip on them? I really think there’s a future for those kinds of wines. Hopefully, people after me will delve into those areas and make some elaboration. Other than that, I really regret people calling me an interventionist winemaker. It reminds me of the time when I was young and some of the elders in the temple warned me against becoming a radical activist rabbi. I have no idea what either means. I mean, I am a winemaker. I make wine. Usually from water. But most wine is water, at least 85-88% of it is. So for the 12-15% that I “influence” does that make me an interventionist? I use no sulfur, everything is organic, heck it’s supernatural. But there are haters out there. My goal is to bring love to the world, to wine, to everything. If I can leave this world with a little less hate, I think my time here on earth will have been well spent.

John: Thanks Jesus, it has been a great pleasure. I am officially out of papyrus now so we should probably end this.

Jesus: By all means. Thank you. Go in love, peace and long life. And keep it natural.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
* Note: written in an imaginative and playful spirit inspired by the post by Elaine Brown, Getting to know Dowell: RH Drexel talks with Robert M. Parker, Jr., with the knowledge and permission of the author.

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