By: Kenyon Adams
One of the things I love about wine is its ability to express the essence of a particular place. Within the tiny orb of a grape is the potential to offer complex flavors and aromas which, when given time and great care, seem to re-imagine the world in which it was grown. The relationship between human beings and the soil beneath our feet can be delicately examined and enjoyed in a glass of wine. Yet, as with so many treasures of the earth, the grape must be carefully cultivated in order to unlock its artful articulation of place. In Genesis 2, God planted a Garden in Eden for Adam and Eve to care for, and God placed gold and other precious metals beneath the soil near the garden as a surprise, it seems, for them to discover, cultivate and enjoy.
And the gold of that land was pure, aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there (Genesis 2 NLT)
French winemakers are particularly concerned with the authentic expression a wine offers the world in regards to the place it was cultivated. The word they use to describe it is terroir (pronounced ter-wah). Technically, terroir refers to the dirt or the terrain on which one might grow wine. But a winemaker understands terroir as the comprehensive description of a vineyard’s growing conditions, including elements in the soil and exposure to frost or sunlight. All of these elements and more are summed up in terroir. It is the essence, even flavor, of a piece of land. Hidden in the grape is the power to reveal terroir.
Inspired by the French tradition of preserving terroir, winemakers around the world are working to discover the essence of their particular terrains, and proudly invite the world to experience the beauty and potential of their region. Wine is being cultivated under some of the harshest growing conditions imaginable, agriculturally and otherwise. South Africa, Israel and Turkey are all producing distinctive wines. Wine regions are springing up all over the U.S. in some unlikely places including Texas, and the Arizona desert. God in His perfect love and wisdom so endowed His creation with treasure that each region has the potential to produce distinctly beautiful sense experiences, celebrating the glory of the Creator.
I am the True Vine and my Father is the vinedresser…I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him-bears much fruit. (John 15:1, 5)
In John 15, Jesus refers us again to a garden, as in Genesis, with His Father planting again. But now, through the gospel, God places us not in a garden but in Himself through Christ, the True Vine. And not only are we in Christ, but He is even in us! This is the radical truth that so amazed Paul when he wrote, Christ in you, the hope of glory. Talk about terroir! In Jesus we discover the true essence of our selves and our world, not merely what is on the surface but all of the conditions in which His subtle complexity and majestic glory are being revealed. No matter how difficult the conditions may be, God has sent His very presence into the soil of our lives in order to reveal His glory. Jesus Christ is our terroir. He Himself is that elusive, complex and ever-present beauty worthiest of seeking, most treasured in finding, and most longed-for in lacking.
My friends, what is the Great Gardener working to preserve in our hearts, in our city, in our world? Let us prayerfully seek to join Him this year.