Tomorrow is the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Mt. Tabor and when, after liturgy, we bless grapes. The following is from the St. Nicholas parish website (here):
It is the tradition of the Church on the Feast of Transfiguration to bless grapes, apples and other fruit brought by the faithful, after the Divine Liturgy. The custom of bringing fruit to the temple originates in the Old Testament time (Gen 4:2-4; Ex 13:12-13; Num 15:19-21; Deut 8:10-14). The Apostles brought this tradition to the Church of the New Testament (1 Cor. 16:1-2). Instruction regarding bringing fruit to temple is found in the Third Rule of the Apostolic Canon, the earliest collection of ecclesiastic laws (canons), known since the second century. In Greece, August is the month of ripeness of fruit, primarily grapes and new ears of grain. Since ancient times, the faithful have been bringing them to the temple for consecration and as a thanksgiving to God. St. John Chrysostom wrote, “The farmer receives fruit from the earth not so much because of his labour and diligence, but because of goodness of God, Who grows this fruit, because neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase (1 Cor. 3:7).”
Grapes are brought to temple because they are directly related to the Eucharistic sacrament; that is why in the prayer for consecration of grapes the priest says, “Bless, Lord, this new fruit of vine which reached ripeness because Thou kindly provided good weather, drops of rain and stillness. Let eating this fruit of vine make us joyful. And give us the honor of offering this fruit to Thee, as the gift of purging of sins, altogether with the Holy Body of Thy Christ.”
In the first centuries of Christianity, the faithful brought forth to the temple the fruit and crops of the new harvest: bread, wine, oil, incense, wax, honey etc. Of all these offerings, only bread, wine, incense, oil and wax were taken to the altar, while the rest was used for the needs of the clergy and the poor whom the church was caring for. These offerings were to express gratitude to God for all goods, but at the same time help the servants of God and people in need.