Monday, December 31, 2012

Burgundians favor low hanging fruit

In Burgundy, the fruit hangs low.
This is a First Growth (premier cru) vineyard just above the village of Gevrey Chambertin, the namesake of the largest appellation in Burgundy Cote de Nuits.
This is that same First Growth vineyard above Gevrey Chambertin. The vines stand just above the hips of that good looking Latvian-American, who at 5'7" and shrinking, is no giant.
On the plus side, growing the fruit so low to the ground allows the rocky soil to give off ripening heat during the cool nights.

On the negative side, moist soil could provide the perfect culture for grape diseases and rot.

With the fruit hanging so low, harvesting is no easy task in this Village Level vineyard just outside of Gevrey Chambertin. Notice the pickers in the foreground stooped over and on their knees. They are so relieved to stand up to dump their grapes into the carrier's bin.
The variety of characters seen during harvest in Givrey Chambertin provide visual entertainment.
For the most part, in 2012, the rain and moisture held off long enough so that the fungal spores did not get a chance to develop until after harvest. So low hanging fruit was a plus.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Creation of Earth seen from a 737.

I saw this magical view on my way to Yellow Knife, Northwest Territories, Canada.
If I were to imagine the creation of Earth, it would look something like this.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What does God look like?

What does your vision of God look like?   
Does it look like the bearded fellow in Michelangelo Buonarroti's Creation of Adam (Man) painting.

This is my photo illustration of God as described by the Mursi tribal elders in the Omo Region of Ethiopia, the ancient former Christian empire. DNA tells us that modern man came from the Omo Region. My conjecture is that the Omo Tribe myths and archetypal dreams I studied and recorded predate modern religions.
This is my vision of God. We live in a field of time. When we die, we leave that field to enter the unphotographable Great Unknown. I'm breaking through the wall of time to peek at an admittedly poor vision God. Note that I was hiking through an Alsatian vineyard when I poked through the time barrier. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do you count your blessings?

Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist about the baker's daughter: "for her, every day was the same, and when each day is the same as the next, it's because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises."
Sunset and fog over Adelsheim's Bryan vineyard near Newberg, Yamhill County, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
 When people ask, "How are you?" I can only reply: "When I remember to count my blessings, excellent."
Vineyard worker offering a photographer whose camera and lens cost more than the worker makes in 20 years, some table grapes at the end of a long day of harvest, Hebei province, China.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Do you know your role?

Somewhere I read that no mater what we do, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world.
Commuters in Beijing, China.

Vineyard worker at Haras de Pirque Winery, Maipo Valley, Chile.
Vineyard worker, Shangri La Winery, above Lancang River, Yunnan Province, China.
Vineyard worker, Mountadam Vineyards, Eden Valley, Barossa, Australia.
Vineyard worker, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA.
Vineyard Worker, Henry Estate Winery, Umpqua Valley, Oregon, USA.
Field supervisor, Mountadam Vineyards, Eden Valley, Barossa, Australia.
Right now I'm wondering what my role is. Can you see your role?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Have you given up your life's dreams?

Sometimes people tell me that they wish they could do the things I've done. What stops them?
Catholic Church door in Cizhong Village in the most remote part of Yunnan province, China.
I know the answer all too well. Many times in my life—right now is one of those times—I've teetered on giving up following my dreams. Oh the excuses stab a thousand deaths. What's the purpose? It's too hard. I've got to earn more money (for that new lens). And what about retirement?

Then comes the warning sign. I feel uneasy, out of sorts, an internal churning. My very insides being splattered against the wall of daily life. Something's stirring.  

Then I know it's time for a spiritual adventure. Visiting vineyards is just an excuse.

That stirring led me to become what some China wine experts say is the only Westerner to have visited all of China's wine growing regions. While seeking the best Chinese region to grow wine, I stumbled on Tibetan culture, mountains of Yunnan and what just might be the world's most amazing vineyards.
With an ancient Catholic church in the background, teacher Zhang performs his morning Tibetan ritual of placing juniper and cedar branches into the burning incense burner on the roof of his home and guesthouse in remote Cizhong village on LanCang (also called Lantsang, Lansang and Mekong) River, Yunnan Province, China.
Tibetan Buddhist Feilai Temple, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away from Deqen Town, (Shengping town), Yunnan Province, China, Asia.
Views from narrow National Highway 214 high above the muddy Lancang (also called Lantsang, Lansang and Mekong) River area near Teilai Temple area, Deqen, Deqin County, northwest Yunnan Province, China. These are big mountains that extend into Tibet.
Check out the people behind the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard near tiny Yunling (Yunlingxiang) village along narrow gravel DeWeiXian road above roiling Lancang (also called Lantsang, Lansang and Mekong) River, Deqin County, Deqen, northwest Yunnan Province, China.
Vineyards in Beng (also called Bu) village on LanCang (also called Lantsang, Lansang and Mekong) River, in the Heng Duan (Hengduan) Mountain Range, Yunnan Province, China.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seeing the light

Without darkness you can't see the light (in life too)
Mt. Jefferson lit by star light on a moonless night during a backpacking trip with one of my grand kids.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Wine Is Not Orange In Oregon

Looking at the warm salmon-colored fermenting juice in the glass, what varietal would you guess? 

Of course, it's Pinot Gris. But it's skin-fermented.   

Not exactly what you expect from a white wine. Aren't whites typically stripped from their tannin-holding grape skins to create the more familiar nearly clear Pinot Gris (AKA Pinot Grigio)?    

That's Dag Johan Sundby's hand holding a glass of Pinot Gris juice just taken from below the cap of skins and seeds. Sundby, a native Norwegian and owner of Johan Vineyards in the Willamette Valley near Rickreall, and his winemaker/viticulturalist Dan Rinke decided to try skin fermenting this year.
Actually, the technique is not so unique. At least one winery in New York is also experimenting with skin-fermentation. And it has been used for thousands of years in European regions like Slovenia, Georgia and Italy. 

While I haven't seen skin-fermented wine from other wineries, I've heard it called by the unappetizing title of orange wine. To me, those two words clash. If that title is an accurate descriptor of other winery's efforts, I must say that the salmon color produced Sundby and Rinke at Johan Winery is visually much more appealing. To a Northwesterner, salmon and wine make a perfect pair.

After tasting this uniquely-flavored fermenting juice, I can't wait to see the wine.