Named in honor of Clairvaux, a Cistercian monastery in eastern France founded by St. Bernard in the early 12 century, New Clairvaux is an extraordinary abbey located in Vina, California, about halfway between Red Bluff and Chico. Its full name is the Abbey of Our Lady of New Clairvaux, and its monks will tell you that it is the spirit of prayer there that is the most noteworthy thing about the place. The rest of the world, however, tends to find the most remarkable, if not astonishing, thing about New Clairvaux to be its chapter house.
If it looks just like part of a medieval monastery, which it does, that’s because it’s the chapter house of Santa Maria de Oliva monastery, originally built in the 12th century in Oliva, Spain. In 1930 William Randolf Hearst bought it and had it dismantled and the stones shipped to California, where he intended to have it reconstructed. He eventually abandoned the project, however, and the stones gathered moss in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Eventually they were awarded to the Abbey of New Clairvaux by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and shipped there. They are being slowly and painstaking reassembled in their original configuration, and substantial progress has been made. It is one of few remaining examples of early gothic medieval architecture in the world.
In addition to its prayer life and the remarkable Cistercian architecture of its chapter house, New Clairvaux Abbey is also known for its beautiful vineyards and fine wines. There is a tasting room on the abbey premises, and their wines can also be purchased online and shipped to most states.
Where: 26240 Seventh St., Vina (google map)
Abbey: 530-839-2161 | firstname.lastname@example.org | NewClairvaux.org
Retreat reservations: 530-839-2434
Vineyard and tasting room: 530-839-2200 | NewClairvauxVineyard.com