Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Learn about Chinese Wineries at University of Oregon, then taste wine

Workers in the vineyard at Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, just one hour out of Beijing, China.

Please come to my surprising presentation on Chinese wineries on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, at 5:00pm at the Ford Lecture Hall of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the U of O campus in Eugene, Oregon. 

Hey, if my talk makes you dry in the mouth, there will be wine tasting after the presentation. 

Unbelievably, this event is sponsored by The Confucius Institute in conjunction with the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, along with some Oregon wineries. 

So you ask what I know about Chinese wineries? I wrote the biggest and baddest, and only, table-top book on the subject written in both Chinese and English. The book even won Best in the World. 

Also, I have a Chinese driver's license.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our House for Sale

Sunset on Mt. Hood during a storm seen from the Great Room.
View of the house and deck from the pond. In another month the pond will be covered with blooming water lilies.
The great room with stand alone fireplace and panoramic views through the picture windows. The space opens continuously to the kitchen and dinning room. Imagine watching storms through the picture windows with the gas fireplace crackling in the background.  For those who like to chop wood, the downstairs has a wood-burning fireplace.
Mt. Hood during a rain storm seen from the deck.
Panoramic view from our deck with Mt. Hood in the top center, the pond on the right and neighbors great rural barn on the far left. Our two llamas can be seen eating in the pasture. Their barn can barely be seen center right.
View of our house during a snow day.

Some years it does snow creating a quiet white paradise.
One of the garden paths.

Stream and waterfall pour into pond full of goldfish, salamanders and frogs. A heron regularly glides in to go fishing. What a sight to see him flap his wings and circle out of the pond area. If you are not a bird lover, you will automatically become one with the quail, eagles, hawks, owls and the dozens of smaller birds.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ordinary eyes categorize

Ordinary eyes categorize human beings. That one is Muslim. This one Christian

Bedik tribe child sleeping. Dambakoi village, Senegal, Africa

Walk instead with the other vision given you, your first eyes. Bow to the essence in a human being. Do not be content with judging people good and bad. Grow out of that. 
(inspired by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)

 Five Fingers Project

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Seven billion leaves

Seven billion leaves on the tree, each moving differently in the wind, yet we're all connected at the root.

Konso tribe children at the compound gate. Busso village, Ethiopia, Africa. Five Fingers Project

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My journey to the pink wine oasis in the Silk Road desert

My winemaker friend, Fred Nauleau, at CITIC Guoan Wine Co., wanted me to see a winery way out in the Xinjiang Silk Road desert.

On the way out, we passed this billboard advertising our destination winery, Chateau JunYan. Since my Chinese is three broken rungs below minimal, I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do with the advertised wine; but the visual clearly shows the countryside we are about to visit. Maybe pouring red wine on a tree in the desert is an ancient local tradition. 
Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

Where did I put my water bottle? My winemaker host and driver told me it was probably only a two hour drive to the winery. But he had never been there before. Four hours later, our journey becomes more suspenseful when we passed a series of cemeteries in the dunes.  Xinjiang, China.

A few thousand rolling sand dunes later, we arrive at Chateau Jun Yan (some spell it JunYan). While I've been to more Chinese wineries than the average Oregonian, this one surprised me. It's a wine oasis. It's an architectural ......(fill in the blank) wonder. Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

Even though they only get 2 inches of rain during a good year, no worries about water in this desert. The owners claimed that under their feet flowed an unlimited system of aquifers. (I quietly reminded myself that this was China, the new wine frontier, which still had unlimited resources.) Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

But why paint the winery pink? Ah, a few photos below, you will find out who the real boss is here. Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

Even though you see acres and acres of a newly-planted green forest and huge vineyards in the background, this photo is just a reminder that we are in the desert, as in sand dune-type of desert. Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

Besides building a large winery, the owners wanted to create an entire resort where nouveau riche Chinese visitors could relax with a glass or three of JunYan wine. Since no respectable oasis resort should be without white geese in a pond, the owners dug a lake among the dunes and imported a flock of geese. I'm ready for my glass of wine now. Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

No winery resort in the desert should be without a lawn, complete with a cast iron sign warning—in three languages: "Don't bother the growing grass." Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

Drip irrigation allows the newly-planted Cabernet sauvignon vines to survive the dry heat. Check out how the vines are planted in a valley. That's so that they can be easily buried under a protective blanket of dirt for the sub-zero (as in less than 0 F) desert winter. Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

Since photographers are suppose to shutter snap at sunset, I did a golden-hour selfie shadow on the new vineyard. Note the acres of plastic for weed control. Also, I'm not showing a photo of all the discarded chemical containers, confirming they are not farming biodynamically.  Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

So these are the proud owners. Having made their fortune with a fleet of factories, they are building their winery resort dream. Can you tell who is the real boss in the family?  Revealing her cutthroat business personality, she actually bribed a farmer for some of Xinjiang's best grapes that were contracted to my winemaker friend, Fred. But then that's business in China, the new wine frontier. Chateau Jun Yan, Xinjiang, China.

By the way, you can order my China wine book by contacting me directly.

What makes these wineries perfect for wedding photography in China?

Wedding photography is big business in an increasingly affluent urban China. And it seems that newly married couples want their photographs to look as if they traveled to some romantic distant chateau. That makes some wineries a perfect photo location. 

Those considering wedding photography and wine lovers, check out these winery locations. And, you shutter clickers, peek at Chinese photographic techniques.

This wedding couple and photographer waited in line for an hour to get this popular viewpoint at the US$103 million Chateau Changyu Baron Balboa, which stands like an oasis in the desert near Shihezi, Xinjiang.
After their professional photography session, this couple wandered around the Chateau to take their own happy snaps. Chateau Changyu Baron Balboa,
Shihezi, Xinjiang.

As they head for a photo session, the bride, groom and photographer are dwarfed by the scale of the Dynasty Winery Chateau architecture.  Dynasty Fine Wines Group Ltd., Tianjin, China.
The wedding party and photographer pass the French Louvre museum copy pyramid. And why not? Dynasty Winery is a Sino-French joint venture with the huge
French alcoholic beverage company,
Rémy Cointreau.  Dynasty Fine Wines Group Ltd., Tianjin, China.
Under the watchful eyes of giant iron guards, this bride waits her turn to be photographed inside Dynasty's winery.
Dynasty Fine Wines Group Ltd., Tianjin, China.
This is one of the photographer's favorite places at Dynasty's winery. The general manager told me that the cost to rent just the winery photographic space costs between $700 to $1000, depending on the status of the customer. Photographer's fee is not included.  Dynasty Fine Wines Group Ltd., Tianjin, China.

Being only one hour out of Beijing, makes Chateau Changyu AFIP Global a favorite photo location for wedding couples.  Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, Miyun County, China.
Most of the photographers seem to use the same standard poses. Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, Miyun County, China.
Even the roof makes a suitable location for some wedding photographers. Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, Miyun County, China.
Ready, set and smile. Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, Miyun County, China.
Chateau Changyu AFIP Global offers a faux church so that a couple can be married and photographed in the same winery village.  Miyun County, China.
This focused photographer is not in the least distracted by the grape sorting line a few feet behind him. After all, Chateau AFIP Global is a very active winery during harvest. The wedding party did have to move when the tanker truck pulled out. Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, Miyun County, China.

My photographs bring emotional magic to Ethiopia's Konso tribe.

One of my most moving photographic experiences ever was in the remote Ethiopian village of Busso. The photographs below were taken on two different visits: the first in 2001, then a return trip in 2007. On the second visit, I brought prints made from the slides taken on my first trip.  

The reactions to seeing the prints were tears, joy and pure delight.

Busso is one of my favorite villages in all of Africa. Konso tribe, Ethiopia.

In 2001, I photographed the old man on the left. There he was holding his pillow/chair staring out at the world through his hand-me-down glasses which still had the original sticker indicating the magnification. It turns out the old man died before my return trip. When I gave the print to the old man's son, he cried with joy. It was the only thing he had to remember his father by. I was so moved by the son's emotional reaction, I couldn't take photographs for a few moments.

On my first trip, I was fascinated by the scarification on the woman's face and her warm smile while holding her first child. When I showed her the photograph, she ran to get her children. The baby in the left photograph is now the taller of her two sons standing in front of her in the more recent picture on the right.

I love taking photographs of people doing everyday things, like this woman working her sorghum harvest. Six years later, on my return trip, the elders identified the woman and called her. She just kept running her finger over the photograph as if touching some distant memory.

I wonder if we technologically adroit Westerners have become immune to photography?