In addition to a palette of fine beverages, in the midst of the vineyard the nuns also provide spiritual respite and inspire personal growth.
The Norbertine nuns of Sint-Catharinadal (“Valley of St. Catherine”) Monastery in Oosterhout are one of the oldest congregations in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, having been in existence for nearly 750 years. They have had a turbulent history, especially during the Protestant Reformation and French rule after Napoleon’s conquest, when, despite freedom of religion, monastic life was considered useless and contrary to freedom.
Through it all, the Norbertines preserved not only their community, but also the monastery buildings and the land around them. This was in large part thanks to the protection of members of the royal court, to whom several sisters were related. When possible, the Norbertine nuns cultivated the fields and ran the farm so they could be self-sufficient. This is still the case today. Only the “repertoire” of crops and products has changed. Today, they mainly produce wine.
“It has biblical connotations and refers to Jesus. And frankly, the sisters like it, too,” explains Sister Mary Magdalene, prioress of the Sint-Catharinadal monastery, located in the Brabant region of southern Holland. The Norbertine nuns had initially considered growing hops on the monastery’s vast grounds. However, they decided that beer production was less in keeping with the image of a women’s monastery, and began producing wine instead in May 2015.