These Dutch Nuns Are Desperate to Sell Their Surplus Wine

Blessed with a bumper crop of grapes, the convent is now seeking help to get rid of 60,000 bottles of wine.

Many bottles of white wine

Marc Volk / Getty Images

For almost a decade, the nuns at Sint-Catharinadal in the southern Dutch city of Oosterhout have tended their own vineyards, growing and harvesting grapes that they eventually turn into wine. Every year, they sell their wines — which include both a blended white and a rosé — and use the profits to help maintain their 376-year-old convent.

Last year was a bit of a dud, harvest-wise, leaving the nuns with a slender inventory of only 9,000 bottles. This year, though, they have the opposite problem: after an excellent growing season, they’re sitting on a surplus of more than 60,000 bottles, and they’re asking the internet to help them shift it.

"The sun has done its best," Sister Maria Magdalena told Dutch news outlet Omroep Brabant. "We can fill about 64,000 bottles of wine."

The sisters have since partnered with Breda Maakt Mij Blij, a local farming organization, to sell their wines online and onsite at their cellar. The wines are being sold for €14.50 ($16) each and a box of six bottles goes for €87 ($96). So far, they’ve managed to unload around 5,000 bottles.

"They called a few weeks ago saying: 'It sounds crazy but it has never been as sunny and dry as in the last year, we have so much wine we don’t know what to do with it, and we are having problems with the energy crisis in a badly insulated building,'" Thibaud van der Steen, a co-founder of Breda Maakt Mij Blij told The Guardian. "There’s a bit of a mistaken impression that Dutch wine isn’t tasty, but nowadays it is almost always good — and this is wine with a story."

De Blauwe Camer is a castle in the Dutch city Oosterhout, housing the religious order Sint-Catharinadal

Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

According to the website, the white wine is a blend of Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, with citrus and green apple on the nose, and a "white peach" finish. The rosé, a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, gives hints of raspberry and strawberry, before finishing with "a dry taste of ripe red fruit." The nuns are currently in the process of bottling both wines, and they will be available for shipping or in-person pickup by mid-June.

The sisters had to scramble to sell a wine surplus in 2020 as well, after a deal to supply KLM airlines with 20,000 bottles fell through due to the Dutch carrier’s decreased flight schedules during the pandemic. After Dutch media ran with their story, those extra bottles sold out — and fast. "It’s rather chaotic here," a spokesperson for the convent told Katholiek Nieuwsblad at the time, describing the situation as "a madhouse."

The nuns are hoping for a similar run on their wines this year. "We desperately need the income for the maintenance of the monastery and so that we can continue to live here," Sister Maria Magdalena said. "I think we made a good choice with the wines. We make people happy and we connect people."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles