Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Help. Are fish caught in the vineyard edible?

I need help with dream interpretation.

Last night I had this dream, actually it was more of a dream-like text message (with just over 140 characters). It asked if I could eat any of the fish caught in the vineyard?

My visualization of the fish in the vineyard dream. A rower in the Bella Vida vineyard looking towards historic Knudsen vineyard in the hills above the Dundee, Oregon.
So how would you interpret this one? Despite Freud's well-documented beliefs about dream interpretation,I don't get this one.

And would the fish have a Pinot flavor?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mother and Child as tribal symbols: African Mursi vs European German

Today, the day before we celebrate the birth of Christ, I was listening to an NPR report about paintings of the Virgin Mary, surely the Western symbol for our collective mother. 

Just at that moment I happened to be scanning a film photograph I took of this Mursi tribe mother breast feeding her child in remote Ethiopia. 

A Mursi tribe Mother breast feeding her child while finishing a clay lip plate. The lip plate has become the iconic tourist symbol for the Mursi tribe in Omo River Valley, Ethiopia.
Visually, I couldn't help but juxtaposition images like Hans Baldung's 16th century painting—which sold for more that $300,000 a couple of years ago, with the tender photo of the Mursi mother in Ethiopia. 

The Virgin as Queen of Heaven by German-born Hans Baldung, also called Grien, I believe painted in 1517. This oil on wood panel was auctioned for more than $300,000. Oh, isn't this painting dripping with iconic symbols with the crown, angel and  halo.

While German-born Baldung's image is definitely Western Christian, interestingly, the religion in Ethiopia predates the painting by about 1400 years.  While the exact date is difficult to pin, Christianity in Ethiopia dates at least back to the 1st century AD and was even declared the state religion in 330 AD.

Count the ways both images burst with cultural symbols.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Can this Cattle Boy be the future of Africa?

I'm in the process of scanning thousands of slides taken during my early Africa film-only trips for the Africa's Undiscovered Myths Project. Here is one gem I rediscovered today.

Cattle boy. This young bare-footed Hamar tribe boy leads his family's cattle just over a mile to the water hole every day. Hamar (Hamer) tribe, Omo River Valley, Ethiopia.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Is a heart attack an obstacle or part of life's pilgrimage?

In March I want to visit the Spanish-colonial-period-inspired vineyards of Bolivia. 

After I got excited, arranged my flights, a friend, who had lived in the landlocked South American country, mentioned a US State Department warning of high altitude dangers to unsuspecting heart attack victims. 

And Bolivia has oxygen-denying altitudes. Teetering on the Andes Mountain slopes, it houses our planet's highest cities and nose-bleed elevation vineyards.

But. Having already ventured on the myocardial infarction of the left anterior descending artery (translates to "widow maker"-sized heart attack) route, I took the warning to heart. 

I agonized for two or three weeks. Yes. No. Yes. Maybe. My adventurous spirit wrestled against my more practical part that wanted to stay alive.

During this time of indecision, I happened to be scanning film-day images captured in the remotest parts of Africa. They inspired me. They tipped my decision.

In remote tourist-free Okohimu village, Namibia, a Himba tribe woman paints my face with the same ochre mixture she uses to cover her own smooth body. I just wasn't sure if she was telling me that my wrinkled face looked old (the ochre paint somehow keeps the Himba women's skin youthfully wrinkle free in the harsh African sun) or that my tan wasn't up to par. Regardless, after the facial, I couldn't hold my camera to my painted face for two days.
Stay tuned to hear what happens in Bolivia.

What obstacles have you faced in your pilgrimage through life?

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

World's Most Amazing Vineyards #2 Red Willow

 With its iconic hilltop stone chapel, Red Willow Vineyard is probably the most recognizable farm of wine grape vines in Washington state. The small rock monument can be seen for miles across the flat Yakima Valley

A stone chapel sits above the Syrah vines at Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima AVA of Washington state.

Inspired by a trip to Italy, along with the death of his longtime friend Monsignor Mulcahy, Mike Sauer had a stone chapel built atop the highest hill on the family farm to honor the memory of the Monsignor. The hilltop chapel, built with stones from the farm, took three years to complete.

Located in the far western end of the Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in Washington state.

The history of Red Willow started when irrigation canals were dug throughout Yakima Valley in the mid 1920s, and settlers flocked to the sage-covered land to farm. Included in this first wave of settlers was Clyde Stephenson, the first generation to farm the land which became Red Willow.

The first vineyard, planted in 1971, was 30 acres planted with Concord vines. The few token rows of wine grapes, Chenin Blanc and Semillon, did not survive on the rich soil where the Concords were planted. However, the Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in 1973, are still in production today.

Red Willow Vineyard is part of the 4th generation Stephenson family farm that dates back to the 1920's.
Mike Sauer sits on his get-around-the-farm 4-wheeler at the base of the hill with the iconic stone chapel.
Third generation farmer, Mike Sauer, provides wine grapes for many of the most recognizable winemakers in Oregon and Washington.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Did drunken gods really create the first human?

When the world was first created, each god had a specific job to help maintain the land. But being fresh off the boat of creation, the gods were not used to hard labor; so, like any adolescent god, they complained, demanding help. 

Tired of hearing the constant whining, one day the water goddess Nammu, birth mother of heaven and earth, decided to create man to help care for the land. She assigned Enki—the patron of all arts, crafts, wisdom and magic, and Ninmah—the Great Mother goddess and Enki´s feisty lover—the creation task. 

But like happens with teenagers, the two creator gods got drunk before beginning the job.  The idea was that Ninmah was to create beings out of clay, while Enki found a role for each creation. Imagine doing surgery while drunk.  Well, the first creation was completely un-viable, unable to stand or feed itself, and had to be held in Ninmah’s lap. 

And thus, by the hands of drunken gods, was born the first human infant.

A modern storytellers version of the Sumerian creation myth
(Remember, the Sumerians were one of the earliest urban societies to emerge on our planet.)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

One of world's most amazing Vineyards #1: Cain Vineyards

A shark fin-like rock formation juts from the Vineyards of Cain Winery in the Mayacamas Range above Napa Valley wine country, California.

The Vineyards of Cain Winery overlook the Napa Valley from one side of the Mayacamas mountain range crest and Sonoma Valley from the other side.
The Cain Vineyards are part what was part of the huge McCormick Ranch, which grazed hundreds of sheep on both the Napa and Sonoma side of the Mayacamas Range in this area known as Spring Mountain.

Fingers of fog creep from the Napa Valley up the mountains, touching Cain Vineyards.
At one time, the original McCormick Ranch encompassed 3,000 acres. Sheep ranching continued into the 1970s, until it became financially unviable. 
An early morning view from from Cain Vineyards atop the Spring Mountain area high above the town of Saint Helena.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How Satan created Ethiopia's Crater Lake.


On the way back to Addis Ababa from Ethiopia's Omo region, I wanted to stop at a crater lake I had heard about. While it is suppose to be a tourist destination, we passed the small rusty directional sign along the road several times, before finding the correct little road to the lake.

This emerald-green lake is in a deep crater about the depth of a 35 story skyscraper from the crater edge. I have no idea how deep it might be and a local told me it is deadly to throw a rock into the lake.

This panoramic photograph makes the lake look so small. But, in fact, you could put a 35-story skyscraper on the water surface and it would barely reach the height of the rim.
Actually, the local man—who walked from his nearby field of maze—told me that this scenic crater lake is an evil place. In fact, the lake’s name, Ara Shetan literally means “Lake of Satan”. 
Many years ago, it seems that an evil sorcerer, who had fought with local peasants, was finally mortally wounded. He fell at the exact spot of the lake. With his last bit of energy as he was dying, he drove his spear into the ground, yelling a curse something like “let this be the devil’s home.” Suddenly, the earth below the dying Satan imploded, swallowed him up and the hole filled with a greenish water.

"Be careful. Don't throw a rock into the lake," my self-appointed guide told me.  It seems that the lake’s Satan will hurl the rock back with incredible intensity, killing the stone thrower.  

While today's geologists might have a different explanation for the lake's formation—something about shifting faults causing the hole—I decided it prudent not to throw any rocks into the lake.

Why Native Americans today cannot look at Oregon's Crater Lake.

Sunset light falls on Crater Lake in southern Oregon.
The Klamath Indians have this story about Oregon's Crater Lake:

A band of Indians were returning from a hunting trip and went up a mountain. At the top of the mountain they looked into its crater and saw a most beautiful blue lake -- bluer than the skies above it. They were awed by the intensity of the blue depths and by the smoking island in the lake. They were sure it was the home of Llaos, the Great Spirit.

Feeling that they had invaded forbidden ground, they quickly retreated down the slope and made camp for the night at a fitting distance away.

But one of the Indian braves could not forget the beautiful sight. He could not resist going back to stand on the rim and gaze at it. When he came away he felt much stronger. He went again and came away stronger and more powerful. After a third visit he grew daring and decided to go down the steep side of the crater. He bathed in the beautiful blue waters. After this he was the strongest and most skillful warrior of the tribe.

Imagine the Native American diving into Crater Lake and becoming a better hunter. Then one Indian ruined the lake's magic powers.
Other Indians wanted to do as he had done. So they also looked at the lake and bathed in its waters and each one came away more powerful than he had been before. They were better hunters, faster runners, more sure of their skills.

But one day, for some unknown reason, one Indian brave, when he was bathing in the lake, killed one of the creatures that lived in the water. Suddenly hundreds of the lake creatures, or Llaos, came from the water, rushed after the warrior and killed him. This ended the spell for all Indians, and they now knew that they could no longer go to the lake.

The fathers told their sons, and those sons told their sons that "death will come to any Indian who even dares to gaze upon the blue waters of Llaos Mountain."
This story taken from the Oregon Blue Book.

Oregon's Crater Lake under the magic spell of winter.

China The New Wine Frontier: a wine lover’s photographic journey.

The straight rows of vineyards can be seen in remote Beng village in Yunnan Province near the border with Tibet. This is just one of the vineyards visited in my China The New Wine Frontier book and presentations.

China is now the world's largest market for red wine, having increased more than 136% since 2008. In France, the second largest consumer of reds, it has declined by 18%. Small wonder that Chinese wineries are springing up like Oregon mushrooms to meet the tremendous demand in their own backyard.

Yet most people outside of the Land of the Dragon have no idea about the country’s booming wine industry, or that the country’s wine history actually dates back at least 9000 years. 

Marco Polo rated the wine in far west Xinjiang, China during his Silk Road journeys, even suggesting a wine mixture for mad dog bites.

With a cow-powered plow, these farmers are pulling up the peanuts grown between rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in a Tinjian Province vineyard.

Join Janis Miglavs for a photographer’s and adventurist’s visual journey through parts of China and an incredible wine scene seen by few outsiders.  Get a behind-the-scenes peek at the booming industry. See the architecture, the vineyards, the people and the wine. 
This is how Chinese drink wine. They call it ganbei.

Along the way learn secrets like how to survive drinking wine with local Chinese during the common practice of ganbei.

The general manager at Chateau Changyu Baron Balboa in Shihezi, Xinjiang, holds up a copy of my China The New Wine Frontier book opened to a page showing another Changyu winery, Chateau Changyu AFIP Global.

Since it is only available in China at this time, these presentations are a rare chance to buy China The New Wine Frontier book, the definitive work on Chinese wineries written and photographed by Miglavs.

Can guns, bows and arrows, and bowling sell wine?

Changyu, China's largest winery, built Chateau Changyu AFIP Global one hour out of Beijing to sell wine with Disney-like attractions. Not only did they build a photo-perfect European-style Chateau and Village, but they also included a shooting range, archery, bowling and an Olympic-size swimming pool.

All to sell wine.

After a few wine tastings, try out the Al Capone-style shooting range at Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, near Beijing, China.

Perhaps attempt the archery before the wine tastings as the arrows are real at Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, near Beijing, China.

When you tire of shooting at targets, try a little bowling at Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, near Beijing, China.

For those who would like to swim off their hangover, Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, near Beijing, China has an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The water temperature is just right.

Yes, they actually do make wine—something like a million bottles a year—at Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, near Beijing, China.

Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, near Beijing, China.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A head injury led me to Ningxia petroglyphs.

A concussion led me to find inspiration in Yinchuan, China. 

While photographing the dinning room at hand-crafted YuanShi winery in China's Ningxia Region, I fell. Somehow I tripped descending the stairs into the space. I skidded down. My head slammed against the stone wall.

Dazed, I stood up slowly. When I looked in a bathroom mirror to see my forehead bleeding, I knew not all was right. My whole body was afraid, sensing something was wrong. That night I knew I had a concussion.

The stone stairs where I fell are at the back of this YuanShi winery dinning room. Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. China wine.
Even though I'm Type A to the max, the next day I cancelled my appointment with a very important winery. A concussion would not allow me to be in the scorchingly bright Ningxia desert sun.

While working alone in my darkened hotel room, something pulled me out to visit the city building two blocks away. Inside, to my surprise, I found a museum. There displays of petrogylphs from the nearby Helan Shan—Helan Mountain—pulled me in to the darkened museum rooms. 

I studied every etching. Inspired. Five hours passed as if a moment in the dark museum caves. These 12,000-year-old rock art works gave me new ideas for the African First Stories (Myth) Project I've been working on for the past 15 years.  

The Sun God Engraving made on the Helan Mountain as displayed in the Yinchuan museum.
The Helan Mountain was the boundary between the nomadic pastoralists to the north and the sedentary farmers to the south. So the Helan Mountain was a meeting place between the two lifestyles, and celebrated by the practice of engraving art in the rocks.

My lesson: an adventure begins through an open door (or a concussion). Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the divine enter in?

The building housing the display of Helan Mountain rock art.

What do you think is the subject of this rock art made at Helan Mountain? This display in Yinchuan, Ningxia Region, China.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Does your winery offer child care like this Chinese chateau?

Ever wish you had child care when going wine tasting.  

Your problems are solved Chateau Changyu AFIP Global. Only thing is, the place is in China. But it's only one hour out of Beijing. Check it out. Depending on your offspring, it might be worth the trip.

At Chateau Changyu AFIP Global you can leave your child (remember in China most people can only have one offspring) at this Day Care Center. The place is fully equipped with the latest in video entertainment, and an eggar staff. Scope out the ceiling decor.
The winery and visitor center at Disney-like Chateau Changyu AFIP Global. The Child Care Center is, of course, in the adjoining faux European village.
The Child Care Center is just to the right of the church in this village adjoining Chateau Changyu AFIP Global. Oh yes, just in case you have a few too many ganbeis (bottoms up in Chinese), there are 90 unique hotel rooms in the village.  

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.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I planted a vineyard because of my pollution.

Farmers plowing between rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in a Tianjin Province vineyard, China.
About one-half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day, according to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Our people are very, very poor. Not enough
food; we struggle for survival. In those kind of
times, you really cannot think about how to do
something beautiful, you only think about how to
survive. So for a long time most Chinese people
struggled to survive. In 1980, I was very poor. I was very afraid.

Then when I became successful, making some money,
I can consider other things. I made a lot
of money here in Shanxi Province; I took a lot of
profit from this place, but we left lots of pollution.

Now, I really feel guilty.

I know that dirty pollution is not natural. Human
beings create the pollution. Even if we start doing
something now, we need a long time, a lot of effort
and a lot of money to re-clean the environment. 

Grace vineyard, Shanxi Province, China. China wine.

Today if I am rich, I can build a very beautiful village here, but if the window can not be opened, and we cannot be outside, we can’t enjoy it.

So I planted a vineyard to create beauty. 

Mr. Chan Chun, Industrialist, owner Grace Winery, Shanxi Province, China

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.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2014