Sunday, November 13, 2011

What mark will wine today leave on human history?

Cathedral on canal in Venice, Italy.

Last night, one of the guests at a neighbor's dinner party, recently returned from two months in Europe, told of the great Medieval cathedrals he had seen in Germany, Italy and France. Some of the cathedrals had a guilds of skilled craftsmen who maintained the churches. I pondered out loud, what are we creating today that will be seen or felt 900 years from now? Will it just be three story personal yachts?

Immediately Treaty Porty, the Scottish castle winery in China's Shandong province, built by Shanghi-based mutual fund owner Chris Ruffle, came to my mind.


Chris' vision started as a simple sketch on a napkin during a red-eye flight. But that sketch evolved into something much more. Setting aside the Herculean task of working with local contractors and officials to actually build an castle from the surrounding granite, Chris tried to keep a larger vision. He named his hewn solid granite castle Treaty Port, to honor Chinese history of the old nearby treaty ports of Yantai (Cheffo) and Penglai (Dengzhou).

Then the location. It sits on the bottom shoulder of 139-metre Qiushan mountain peak where a climber can see the Yellow and Bohai seas, as well as the infamous NAVA Valley, a name which irks Napa Valley vintners. The name Qiushan is significanct for Daoists as the spot where Qiu Chuji (a famous 14th century Daoist) lead a strict religious life of ascetism and philanthropy. Qiu was outlived by his well-respected school of thought, which he evolved while living at the foot of Qiushan peak. Can you taste Qiu in the wine?

The peak also served as the fort for the Nian Army, a local rebel group, as recently as 1868. So the castle bathes in the light of history.


A Polish artist painted this mural of Chinese history in the main staircase.

The chef in her spacious castle kitchen. Check out the imported red stove and refrig.

What do you think? What will wine leave as a marker for our period in human history?

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