Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do We All Need to be Strangers?

Part of the joy of travel for me is the chance encounters with billionaires, vineyard workers, CEOs and winemakers. We're all just people, nothing more, nothing less.This guy He was laughing at my attempt at Chinese during harvest at a Huadong Parry winery vineyard near Qingdao (sometimes spelled Tsingtao, a coastal town famous for its beer), Shandong province. Truthfully, he did have cause for laughter.

I'm always amazed at how generous people can be. Here I am snapping with a camera costing perhaps 10 years of this woman's wages and she is offering me grapes. Just the thought makes me hopeful about we little humans.

This photograph was taken just after he hauled up two crates with 66 pounds of harvested Cabernet Sauvignon grapes up a steep mountain. This is in the Gushui Village vineyard above the Lantsang River, Yunnan Province for ShangriLa Winery.
Check out his outfit. This after he had been picking and hauling for half a day. Never did I look this debonair when I picked grapes in Napa. Also look at the ethnic diversity in Yunnan and Xinjiang provinces.

This is winemaker Emma Gao. One day her father, who managed vineyards, thought that they should make their own high-quality wine-something rare in China. He called Emma, who was studying in Russia, to ask if she wanted to make wine. "Yes, Papa." She then went to France, learned French in 4 months and studied winemaking there for four years. Back in China, Emma, with the micro family winery, Silver Heights, has earned a well-respected reputation for their wine. I even hauled a bottle back to the United States to share.

Oh, yes,
her husband, Thierry Courtade, the winemaker at Chateau Calon Segur, and five-year-old daughter, also called Emma, both live in France.

And those towering new apartments in the background are the city of Yinchuan, Ningxia province, englufing the tiny family winery like a tsunami wave.

I like my job.

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