Where can you go to church, browse a bookstore, spend a retreat in silence, AND go wine tasting? I know you ask yourself that all of the time. The answer is the Abbey of New Clairvaux Vineyard, seriously one of the most unique spots I’ve ever visited. It’s located about 3 hours north of San Francisco in the tiny Northern California town of Vina (appropriate for a winery!). It is the first Cistercian Monastery in the Americas to grow, vinify and bottle its own wine.
The logistics…it is located at 26240 7th St, Vina, CA 96092. Gates to the monastery, including the Sacred Stones are open from 6am-8pm. The wine tasting room is open from 11am-5pm. Picnic spots are only available for overnight guests. Make a day trip out of it and stop by the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge at sunset on your way back!
During the expansion of the first transcontinental railroad, Leland Stanford discovered Gerke’s ranch and purchased it in 1881. Stanford immediately began to expand, creating the largest winery and vineyard in the world. In 1915, a fire destroyed the state of the art fermentation building and with Stanford having passed away in 1893, the difficult decision to continue operations was left to Stanford University. With increasing pressure from the temperance movement, Stanford University decided to close the winery and by the following winter all the vines were removed. In 2000, the monks of New Clairvaux and the Sunseri family revitalized the almost lost viticultural area by each planting a vineyard. Together they have returned Stanford’s 100 year old brick wine cellar to its original purpose. You’ll have to taste it for yourself, but I can attest to the fact that they did an excellent job of bringing those vines back!
In addition to some great wine tasting at the Abbey of New Clairvaux Vineyard, take some time to visit their “Sacred Stones”. These stones are from an 800 year old chapter house of the Santa Maria de Ovila Cisterian monastery in Spain. William Randolph Hearst purchased, dismantled & shipped the house to California in 1931 with the intention of using them in his plans for a grand home in remote Northern California. Unfortunately, Hearst abandoned his plans and instead gave the stones to the City of San Francisco as a part of his tax repayment. The stones sat in Golden Gate Park until 1994 when they were given to the abbey.
As you can see, some of the stones “walked off” while they sat in Golden Gate Park. Replacement stones are being added to supplement the structure.
If you don’t Instagram it, did you really visit???
The Monastery is open as a retreat space. Guests & church groups can come up to stay in the rooms and soak in the quiet. There are a lot of hidden spots around the property with tucked away benches and spots for reflection, including a hummingbird garden & a koi pond.
Just a little about the birds & the bees….