Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vineyard harvest China style: Yunnan Province near Tibet

These scenes show the difficulty of harvesting grapes in the steep mountains of the far western tip of Yunnan Province near the border with Tibet, China. 

Originally, through special arrangements with the local government, Shangri-La winery, a division of Chinese conglomerate liquor maker VATS Group, was able to contract with local farmers to grow grapes on the tiny flat terraced plots of land. 

In spite of the rugged land and transportation difficulties, French spirits maker Moet Hennessy saw the positive climate and soil as great potential to grow quality wine grapes in this remote part of Yunnan.  

As a result, Moet Hennessy partnered with VATS Group's Shangri-La winery to form Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery Co. 

Wine has changed the economics in this mountainous region of Yunnan near the border with Tibet.  ShangriLa winery—now partnered with French-based Moet Hennessy to form Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery Co.—has made growing wine grapes profitable for farmers in villages like Beng (also called Bu) in the western part of Yunnan Province, China.   Beng is located on the silt-filled LanCang (also called Lantsang, Lansang and Mekong) River, in the HengDuan Mountain Range at the southern end of the Himalayas.
The Lancang snakes through the steep mountains past tiny villages with terraced farm plots on any piece of level land. Most of the village farmers now grow wine grapes as a cash crop here in Yunnan Province near the border with Tibet, China.    

The vineyard terraces are steep in the western part of Yunnan Province near the Tibet border. These farmers contract with Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery Co. to provide wine grapes.
Moving harvested wine grapes to collection points for Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery is no easy task in this far western part of Yunnan Province. China wine.
Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot are the most popular varieties for the conservative thinking farmers in this far western part of Yunnan Province near the Tibetan border. China wine.

Once the Cabernet sauvignon grapes are loaded into the crates, they must be hauled up the steep hillside. The silted Lancang River roils below as it slices through the HengDuan Mountain Range at the southern end of the Himalayas. China wine. 
Each crate loaded with Cabernet sauvignon grapes weighs about 20 kilos or about 44 pounds. China wine.


I can only imagine how tired a vineyard worker must get after hauling the harvested grapes up the steep hills all day long. These grapes are destined for Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery Co.  Yunnan Province, China wine.
Again, each crate loaded with Cabernet sauvignon grapes weighs about 20 kilos or about 44 pounds. This man is shorter and more slightly built than I am. China wine.
The only open level area Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery Co.has to collect harvested grapes is the middle of the road. Any other level plot in this far western  part of Yunnan Province must be devoted growing  crops, including wine grapes. There are 23 farming families delivering Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot grapes at the collection point. China wine.
The farmers use any available vehicle, including dump trucks to bring the harvest to the Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery collection area.  China wine.
The Shangri-La Winery general manager/vineyard manager must constantly teach the farmers what makes a quality grape that will bring the highest price. Yunnan Province, China.
While I saw these geese feed on insects, never once did they steel a ripe Cabernet sauvignon grape. Yunnan Province, China.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Did we (modern man) or Neanderthals create the first religion (myths) trying to answer life's big questions?


Could this be what the dawn of man looked like? On my research trip this year, I took this photograph of a sunrise over the remote Mursi tribal village of Belle in Ethiopia's Omo region. During my stay in this village, I imagined that our modern man ancestors lived like this before a few walked out of Africa to populate our planet.

In 1856, in a cave in Germany's Neander Valley, Neanderthals were the first hominid ancestor to be discovered.

Comparison of the DNA of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens suggests that they diverged from a common ancestor, probably Homo heidelbergensis, who originated between 800,000 and 1,300,000 years ago. This evolutionary ancestor continued living in Africa, Europe and Western Asia until they vanished about 200,000 years ago.

Then, for some unexplained reason, between 350,000 and 400,000 years ago the African branch is thought to have started evolving towards modern humans and the Eurasian branch towards Neanderthals.

About 50,000 to 60,000 years ago modern man walked out of Africa to eventually populate our planet, according to Mitochondrial DNA. DNA also tells us that modern man and Neanderthals mixed.

In all of this evolutionary history, which of our ancestral storytellers tried to answer our mysterious big questions of life on earth?  Who created the first myth?

Was it Neanderthals or us modern Homo sapiens who first began asking about the creation of earth, and the creation of man? 

And what about archetypal dreams?


Monday, September 15, 2014

China winery architecture #6: Modestly big chateaux.


In China "bigger is better," according to one Chinese winery executive. So I would rate these Chinese wineries as  architecturally modest Chateau. ("Chateau" is the term Chinese use for wineries.)


Dragon Seal Winery was originally formed as a collaborative effort with Pernod Ricard of France, In 1987. Upon the recommendations of the French new vineyards were established in Huailai County, Hebei Province, with cuttings imported from the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of France. Those collaborative efforts failed.  Coming out of that failure, Dragon Seal Wines Company became a wholly, state-owned enterprise under the control of Beijing First Light Industry Corporation in 2001. This winery building in Hebei Province is part of that new rebirth. China wine.
Chateau Sun God winery owned by China Great Wall Wine Co., Ltd., located in Shacheng, Huailai County, Hebei Province, China. China wine.
 Ningxia Daylong winery Company in Ningxia Hui autonomous region near Yinchuan is a subsidiary of Thailand's Daysun Group based in Bangkok. China wine.


 Dynasty's Imperial Horse winery spreads out behind one of their vineyards. China wine. China, Ningxia Province.


 Local government-owned Chateau Lanny. China; Ningxia Hui autonomous region.


The sign at front entrance identifies the  Leirenshou Grape Winery, which was established in 2002. Like a good company in capitalistic/communistic China, they tout  statics like their manufacturing capacity of something like 6 tons per hour, and annual production of 18,000 tons of wine. I can't remember how many glasses can be filled with 18,000 tons.   China, Ningxia province. China wine.



HeLan Qing Xue Winery, which produced Jai Bei Lan wine, the first Chinese winery to win a gold medal at the Decanter Competition. The resident winemaker, Zhang Jing was once the Deputy Secretary General of Ningxia Wine Industry Association, and winery President and Chairman, Rong Jian, was also President and Chairman of the Board of the Ningxia Wine Industry Association. Now the functions of the Association are taken by a much more active Ningxia Bureau of Grape and Floriculture Industry—now that is a true Chinese name—located near the Helan Mountain Grape Cultural Corridor, with Cao Kailong as the director.  HeLan Qing Xue Winery is now only one of the many wineries in Ningxia Province, China. China wine.
While some functions are high tech, workers still hand glue labels on the bottles at HeLan Qing Xue Winery. China, Ningxia Province, Yinchuan. China wine.


Chateau Changyu-Castel is a joint venture winery between Changyu—China's oldest and most famous winery, and Castel— rated one of the top three wine companies in the world. This is Changyu's first in a series of chateax built throughout China. The winery is located near Yantai, Shandong Province, China. China wine.
This is the neatly organized barrel cellar in Chateau Changyu-Castel. China wine.

While I visited Yantai Happy News Winery Company during September harvest, there didn't seem to be much activity. But with a name like Happy News, how can life possibly be all bad? Shandong Province, China. China wine.

China winery architecture #5: Modernist style


Domaine Chandon Ningxia, near Yinchuan, Ningxia Province.

Moët Hennessy broke ground on April 2012 in the construction of this modernist 6,300 square meter winery. Now fully operational, the winery has fermentation wine cellars, technical tasting rooms, and a visitor center. Equipped with world leading sparkling wine production facilities, Domain Chandon (Ningxia) Winery released its first sparkling wine just this year (2014).


Pinot Noir vines in front of Domaine Chandon Ningxia, near Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
The sculptured wall represents furrowed rows with vineyard posts at Domaine Chandon Ningxia, near Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
The sculptured wall represents furrowed rows with vineyard posts at Domaine Chandon Ningxia, near Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
The production area is visible through the large glass windows of the formal tasting and dinning room at Domaine Chandon Ningxia, near Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.





COFCO's Great Wall Winery, near Yinchuan, Ningxia Province.

China's largest grain and oil dealer COFCO owns this winery and vineyard.


The architectural lines of COFCO's Great Wall Winery at the base of Helan Mountain seem to mimic the jagged lines of the mountain, near Yinchuan city, in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China.


All images international copyright 2014 Janis Miglavs. 

For a more comprehensive look at the China Wine industry see my recently released book China The New Wine Frontier written in both Chinese and English. (The book already won the "Best in the World" award from Gourmand.)

To order the book in China go to Amazon China. 

To order in the USA or internationally, contact the author/photographer at janis@jmiglavs.com.








China winery architecture #4: The practical Soviet-era style factory.



Xinjiang Citic Guoan Wine Co.
"Xinjiang is located at roughly the same latitude as Bordeaux and California, making it an ideal place for growing grapes,' said Fred Nauleau, the French winemaker hired by the Citic Guoan Wine Company, who has spent ten years in the autonomous region, married a Chinese woman and had two children. 'And I was surprised to find that red wine I made here could inherit the fine and elegant style which once just belonged to old world, French wine."
Main entry to Citic Winery in Manasi. Note the secure gates and tire spikes to guard against terrorists. Manasi, Xinjinag province, China.




Farmers unload harvested grapes at this platfoweigh and check sugar content at Citic Winery in Manasi. Manasi, Xinjinag province, China.
The bright flowers don't cover the factory-like architecture of Citic Winery in Manasi. Manasi, Xinjinag province, China.
The people on the walkway are dwarfed by the forest of huge storage and fermenting stainless tanks at Citic Winery in Manasi. Manasi, Xinjinag province, China.
Citic Winery in Manasi. Manasi, Xinjinag province, China.
This is the employee designed and made control center at the winery at Citic Winery in Manasi. Manasi, Xinjinag province, China.
Barrel Cellar at Citic Winery in Manasi. Manasi, Xinjinag province, China.





Changyu Pioneer Wine Co. Inc.

This is the factory winery of the Changyu brand, which also includes Disney-sized Chateaux, some of which can be seen in my blog. Located in Yantai, Shandong Province, Changyu Pioneer Wine Company is China's oldest and largest winery. Started in 1892 by Zhang Bishi, the company's name is formed from his surname Zhang (Chang) and the Chinese character which means prosperity.  Changyu Pioneer Wine Company is at least the world's 10th largest winery.


Two people in the lower right of the photograph are dwarfed by the fermenting tanks at Changyu Pioneer Wine Co., Yantai, Shandong Province, China.
This worker checks the quality of the cork being produced at Changyu Pioneer Wine Co., Yantai, Shandong Province, China.
This is just a portion of the bottling line at Changyu Pioneer Wine Co., Yantai, Shandong Province, China.
Storage tanks at Changyu Pioneer Wine Co., Yantai, Shandong Province, China.





 Domaine Helan Mountain Winery

Helan Mountain (Ningxia) Winery Co. Ltd. is a wholly-owned trading company of Pernod Ricard.
Pernod Ricard's Helan Mountain (Ningxia) Winery Co., Ningxia province, China.
Pernod Ricard's Helan Mountain (Ningxia) Winery Co., Ningxia province, China.
Pernod Ricard's Helan Mountain (Ningxia) Winery Co., Ningxia province, China.
Pernod Ricard's Helan Mountain (Ningxia) Winery Co., Ningxia province, China.



All images copyright 2014 Janis Miglavs. 

For a more comprehensive look at the China Wine industry see my recently released book China The New Wine Frontier written in both Chinese and English. (The book already won the "Best in the World" award from Gourmand.)

To order the book in China go to Amazon China. 

To order in the USA or internationally, contact the author/photographer at janis@jmiglavs.com.





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

China winery architecture #3: Nouveau California Mission style.


Chateau Junding winery, located near Penglai, Shandong province.

I conjecture the nouveau California mission style architecture of Chateau Junding is no accident, but in fact a visual association. 

The COFCO-private joint venture Chateau boasts it is located in Nava Valley. Now does that sound similar to Napa Valley or what? Napa Valley wineries and the Napa Valley Vintners Association fought legal battles over the name.  

Taking associations one step further, Junding and the Penglai city government Wine Region Promotional Association claim Nava Valley is now one of the world's seven major grape coasts, associating itself with Médoc, Tuscany, Casablanca, Barossa Valley, Cape Town and of course, Napa Valley.

Junding is just one of the wineries from all across China featured in my recently-released book, China The New Wine Frontier.(The book already won the "Best in the World" award from Gourmand.) To order the book in China go to Amazon China, in the USA or internationally, order directly from the author/photographer at janis@jmiglavs.com.



Chateau Junding is the pinnacle of "Bigger is Better" in Chinese wine marketing. The main cluster of buildings, spreading out like a square donut with a crowning tower at one edge, covers 300 mu (20 hectares). Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
The complex contains 92 guest rooms. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Wind your way to the Junding amenities, including Chinese and Western style restaruants, at least one banquet hall, three private meeting rooms with round dinner tables, a fully equiped business center, a huge karaoke space (where I had to perform as the only foreign guest), an outdoor swimming pool, a more bars than I could count. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
The trail leads to a 3000 sq meter theater-style plaza for outdoor barbeques and "celebration."Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
The lights and moon highlight the architecture at night. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
The architecture of the wine production building seems stately even from the backyard side rarely seen by visitors. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Towers and arches surround one of the courtyards next to dining rooms and recreation area. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Almost hidden among the opulant amenities, there is actually a fully-outfittee winery capable of producing one million bottles and year and, according to the literature, the largest underground cellar in Asia.  Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Stainless steel storage tanks in a spotless production area at Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.


Chateau Junding Golf Club

This road leads to Chateau Junding Club, with its 7,293 yard, 18-hole course, boasts it is the only course in China situated in a vineyard. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Park your Silver Cloud or black Buick right at the entrance of Chateau Junding Club with it incongruent combination of architectural styles. Inside is 5,800 square meteers of restaurants, privte member areas, business center, coffee shop, cigar boutique and, of course, wine display areas. Chateau Junding Club, Penglai, Shandong province.
The golfer's first sight insdie the Golf Club is the marble floor and ornate ceiling of the lobby. Chateau Junding Club, Penglai, Shandong province.
Inside Chateau Junding Club, Penglai, Shandong province.





Yes, they actually grow and make wine at Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Besides the winery, hotel and golf club, Chateau Junding also has a nursery to propagate new vines to be shipped all over China. Even the nursery has the mission style arches. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.


Phoenix Lake, which has fish we ate for one dinner, cradles the complex. Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.
Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong province.



All images copyright 2014 Janis Miglavs. 

Junding is just one of the wineries from all across China featured in my recently-released book, China The New Wine Frontier.(The book already won the "Best in the World" award from Gourmand.)

To order the book in China go to Amazon China, in the USA or internationally, order directly from the author/photographer at janis@jmiglavs.com.