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Wine label toasts Catholic heritage

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As the festive season nears, thoughts are inevitably turning to ways of celebrating in a COVID-safe manner. For wine lovers, it may be an opportunity to try a label that honours the heritage of Irish Catholic settlers in the Clare Valley.

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Good Catholic Girl Wines was established by local Julie Barry 15 years ago as a way of not only demonstrating her skills as an oenologist but also to pay tribute to her Irish Catholic ancestors.

“Our family came out from County Clare in Ireland in the 1850s as refugees with thousands of other Catholics to seek freedom from the oppression of the English and Protestants,” she told The Southern Cross.

“Thus I am an historic Catholic, one who will always be a Catholic to honour and respect my ancestors who left their homeland seeking a better life and thus giving me the freedom to chase my dreams.”

Julie comes from a well-known winemaking family. Her late father Jim, a Rostrevor College graduate, was the first qualified oenologist in the region and enjoyed the company of the Jesuit priests and brothers, especially Br John May and Fr Joe O’Mara, at Sevenhill Wines.

Jim married local girl Teresa Nancy Edwards, also a Catholic, and together they raised six children who were educated by the nuns at
St Joseph’s, Clare.

“Going to St Jo’s in Clare has influenced me in so many ways,” said Julie.

“The nuns seemed to float between heaven and hell, but all very strong independent women, survivors. I had plenty of things to argue with them about which builds strength of character. Blind faith wasn’t for me!”

After her father’s passing, Julie set up her own wine business using grapes grown in the Armagh area west of Clare. Her cellar door at Sevenhill pays homage to her Catholic identity, with the tasting room called The Vestry adorned with beautiful religious objects.

“I am not targeting Catholics per se as I am not a church. I am targeting wine lovers who have a sense of fun and want to drink wine that is made with honesty and truth…honest wines made in the vineyard that reflect all the hard work and toil of the Irish settlers before me.

“Self-belief and a lot of divine intervention and a great support network of family, friends and my congregation of loyal followers has got me this far.

“My wine is prayerodynamically produced – by the power of prayer – it all helps!”

 

 

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