I had the opportunity to go on a John 15 tour, led by Merrill Bonarrigo, last Thursday. Merrill spoke about John 15; how it relates to her life, the vineyard, and just how relevant this scripture is to all of our lives.
“It was that one little step- that little leap of faith we took that has allowed us to do what we do today and we are so blessed, “Merrill said, “it is not one of those things you plan; God provided one opportunity after another.”
Merrill said becoming a vine tender, herself, taught her the true meaning behind the scripture in John 15 and it all relates to love.
John 15 describes the age old tradition of preparing the grapevine for quality fruit production in order to assure a bountiful harvest and the role of the Father and family in that process. John 15 covers everything one needs to know about growing a vine; it focuses on love and relationships.
Each vine is a clone from another vine- just like Father and son. A new vine begins as a stick, propagated from another vine. New vines need special attention and nourishment from their vine tender to prompt growth and development. With the vine tenders’ care, the stick begins to develop roots and leaves. It is the vine tenders’ responsibility to ensure each vine gets the proper care necessary to be successful in producing fruit.
“I am the vine, and my Father is the vine tender. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
The vine tender guides the vine up to the trellis wire (structure), watering, pruning, and protecting it until the vine is large enough to stand on its own. The trellis wire stabilizes the vine so that it can obtain the most sunlight and produce the best fruit. The branch is a channel through which all nourishment flows to the leaf and the fruit. The leaf provides the solar panel for the chemistry necessary to sweeten the grape. The sunshine is imperative for good sweet fruit. The vine provides the water from the ground through the branch into the fruit sacs that grow on the branch. A healthy vigorous branch will allow all the water and nourishment it carries to go to the fruit; a weak branch inhibits that flow.
Only careful pruning by the vine tender allows the branch to maximize its fruit production. The vine tender knows each branch and prunes each branch differently dependent on need and potential. Without pruning, the branches become wild and do not produce much fruit. These wild branches will cling on to anything: walls, weeds, they need something to hold on to for stability and security.
Merrill spoke about growing up and the ‘pruning’ that took place in her family’s kitchen and at the dining room table. She said it was a time of laughter and sharing: a classroom for the history of forefathers, the science of cooking, the grace of conversation, and family values. Merrill remembers her grandmother’s favorite recipe to recite, the easiest one to make: equal parts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. She later learned these were really the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
“Planting and tending the vineyard at Messina Hof gave me even greater insight to the source of these special fruits,” Merrill shared.
To experience a John 15 tour at Messina Hof viineyards please call 979-778-9463 ext. 234.