Why I Make Sacramental Wines

Traditions help hold civilization together. Often born of mythos or ancient storytelling, they enrich one’s culture, broadening and deepening the human experience. My family and I hold onto traditions established by our ancestors. Their continuity connects us to our roots, while providing meaning to our contemporary and future lives. We are from Lavertezzo, Switzerland, which is in the district of Locarno, and the canon of Ticino.

I am born of a long lineage of Swiss Catholics. Many of our most meaningful traditions unfolded around rituals of our faith. Growing up, I attended Catholic school along California’s Central Valley, and our parish was for us an extension of the family; a congregation, a literal gathering of friends and families that constituted what I came to consider community.

For my Swiss ancestors in Locarno, their gathering place, and the nexus of their faith, was the Madonna del Sasso Cathedral, which I visited last year. It is a Marian shrine and the Divine Feminine is strongly felt there. The Pelican and her Piety, a Catholic symbol that embodies the virtues of service, sacrifice and charity, is featured in the shrine’s stained-glass windows. Since boyhood, I’ve been fascinated by this emblem, which through its symbolism marries virtues I hold dear. The image of an animal and her offspring completed its beauty for me, as I’ve always sought and found solace in the natural world.

The Pelican and her Piety, along with the lion (symbolizing valor and courage) are also found in the heraldry crest of Lavertezzo, and so it became an inevitability that both images would come to represent my wine brand, Brvghelli Wines. Aside from becoming a son, husband, and father, founding my wine brand has been the most profound bond I’ve entered.

Debuting later this year, my sacramental wine project, Sacramental Wine by Michael Brughelli, prominently features the Pelican and her Piety on the front label. This project is a ritualistic overture I offer to the churches that helped raise me and shape the man I’ve become. It is a way of giving something back to these congregations and congregants, who are my community, and who now also help hold and raise my daughters.

Sacramental Wine by Michael Brughelli will not be for sale but will instead be gifted to the congregations that informed my youth, formative years and my adulthood. In this first year of their offering, they will be poured ritualistically during the sacrament at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, in Arroyo Grande, where I attended school as a boy, and where our daughters are now enrolled, and Rancho Sisquoc Church in Santa Maria Valley, where my wife and I were married, and which presides symbolically over the wines I grow and make there. In the coming years, they will be offered to other congregations.

They are made of the same Pinot Noir fruit, and from the some of the same sites, as the Brvghelli Wines and represent my best, most solemn efforts in the field and cellar.