In the past several years, I’ve noticed vineyards popping up here and there throughout my lovely state of Kentucky. Now, I’m no expert, but apparently those who are have determined Kentucky’s limestone-based soil and climate are perfect for growing a wide variety of grapes. From vine to bottle, they say, a good wine starts in the field.
So, I’ve researched this a bit and discovered it’s hard work! The work of a vinedresser is endless. First of all, pruning is essential to producing good grapes. The dead canes need to be cut off in winter when the vines are dormant. You see, the dead canes will not bear fruit so they must be removed. The dead branches are then gathered and burned. This pruning process gives room for new, healthy shoots to grow which will bear fruit.
Then, through the growing season, the vinedresser trains the branches. Gently, he combs the branches, untwisting them and positioning them so they have optimum exposure to the sun. The leaves blocking the sun from the berries must be thinned. Clusters that will never ripen evenly need to be broken off. Why? Because they only steal the life of the vine from the good clusters. In addition, the vinedresser cuts away excess showy foliage to concentrate the life of the vine into the best berries that will make the finest quality of wine.
You see, pruning goes on for the life of the vine.
Also I discovered, best wine is produced with a little bit of stress on the vine. Grapes are the only crop that need to be stressed to enhance the flavor. When a good vinedresser waters his vineyard, he pours water just beyond the reach of the roots so they stretch and and grow deep in search of the water.
Essentially, the fruit is richer and the wine is full of character and grace when the vine is stressed enough to produce deep roots, the shoots are pruned, and the clusters are thinned.
Learning these vital details about tending a vineyard make Jesus’ parable about the vine and the branches come alive. Look at this with me. John 15:1-2, 5-6 says,
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit… I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned…
Jesus says it right here – in order for us to bear fruit, we must be pruned. The Holy Spirit reveals to us what needs to be cut off in our lives. You know that feeling you get when you know you’ve sinned. That’s the Holy Spirit leading us to repentance. And true repentance cuts that branch of sin off our lives.
Furthermore, it’s God the Vinedresser who trains us and places us in the best position in order that Jesus is glorified in our lives. He thins our showy foliage, which is our flesh (i.e., our own agendas, pride, self-righteousness), so that we will see more of the Son and so that the Son may be seen in and through us.
Lastly, it’s the stresses of this life that help us realize our need for a Savior. These cause us to dig deep in search of the Living Water. Producing deep roots of faith. Then we become firmly established in Jesus Christ and our fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control) is full of character and grace.
Just like a fine wine.