The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland had a dilemma at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Weeds were overrunning part of the cemetery grounds and it needed some sprucing up. One estimate would have the church spend $50,000 to chop the weeds and clear the debris. Then the diocese decided it was better to spend $25,000 to plant a vineyard.
Grape vines in the graveyard might sound a little odd, but cemetery officials see the vineyard as not only a cost savings measure, but also a link to the Cana water-to-wine miracle and today's modern the Mass. They are quick to point out Franciscan friars introduced grapes to California in the 1700s.
The nearest graves are about 60 feet from the vines. The Diocese of Oakland has hired a vineyard consultant to monitor the zinfandel, chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. The church plans to see how the vines develop and then decide if the wine can be used in church ceremonies or sold at fundraisers. Talks are underway about possible plantings at two other cemeteries.