The VINTAGE is an episode of the Last Judgment described in Revelation xiv:18–20. First an angel reaps the Harvest of the earth: “And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” This Vintage has customarily been interpreted as signifying war; Blake followed this interpretation (Mil 27:8), as later did Julia Ward Howe: “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” For Blake, the Harvest and Vintage, which on earth are the disasters preceding the Millennium, are in heaven the making of the bread and wine of Eternity. The Vintage takes place on the Fifth Day, and is the work of Luvah and his children. When the grapes are pressed, Luvah and Vala, overwearied, sleep on the floor, while Urthona and Tharmas with their children separate the lees and load their wagons with the wine (FZ ix:715–94).
In Milton the Last Vintage is eagerly anticipated as the revolution in world thought (23:59). Blake himself is “the Signal that the Last Vintage now approaches” (24:42), and the reaping of the whole earth is to begin at Lambeth (25:48). Los is in charge, putting the oppressor and the oppressed indiscriminately into the vats (25:6). The Wine-press is situated on the Rhine (25:3) in the battles of the Napoleonic wars. It is also “eastward of Golgonooza before the Seat of Satan: Luvah laid the foundation & Urizen finish’d it in howling woe” (27:1). The children of Luvah tread the grapes (25:1; 27:3); then the description given in The Four Zoas ix:742–71 is repeated with a few additions (Mil 27:3–41). After Blake’s mystical vision of Ololon, all is ready “to go forth to the Great Harvest & Vintage of the Nations” (Mil 43:1).