Saturday, June 21, 2014

Time Lapse Architecture

I love photographing architecture. For exteriors, I like the times when Mother Nature is in  dramatic transition, such as sunrise, sunset and edges of storms. While photographing Platform 14 apartments for Holland Residential, Mother Nature totally surprised me. Watch the time lapse.

A peek inside the "Best in the World" book on Chinese Wineries

On May 19 of this year, at the international Cookbook Fair in Beijing, China, Janis’ most recent book, China the New Wine Frontier, received the “Best in the World” award in the “Special Award of the Jury for Wine” category.
For the cover, we searched long and hard to find a traditional Chinese painting a vineyard scene. The book itself is huge, weighting 2.2 kilos (nearly 5 pounds). It's all printed on heavy high-quality stock.

Besides the narrative-style body text, the rich photographs have detailed captions loaded with information about the vineyards and wine making in China. The copy is written with readers at all levels of wine enthusiasm in mind, from those just learning  to the very sophisticated aficionado.

Written in both Chinese and English, this book is undoubtedly the most complete look at Chinese Wineries to date.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Changyu—China's largest winery—hopes this bronze statue will sell wine in China.

In China's far-west desert not far from the Silk Road, this bronze rocker guitarist in garden on the east side of Changyu Chateau Baron Balboa, stands in stark contrast to images of the honorary president of the chateau, the grand Ol' Brit from Bordeaux, Count John Umberto Salvi, Master of Wine. All of this to provide the visitor Changyu's version of a "wine experience."
General Manager and Winemaker of Changyu Chateau Baron Balboa in Xinjiang, Hao Dongshu, holds a copy of my book China the New Wine Frontier to the chapter on sister winery, Chateau Changyu AFIP Global near Beijing. These are two of Changyu's current chateaux.
Changyu Chateau Baron Balboa near Shihezi, Xinjiang, is designed to be a Disney-like tourist destination under the shell of a European-style chateau. China's largest winery, Changyu,wants the visitor to experience wine culture at all of its four Sino-based chateaux, and then, of course, buy more wine. In the near future, Changyu plans to build at least two more chateaux, plus a whole wine city, which by itself will reportedly cost about 6 billion yuan (about US $1billion), near its headquarters in Yantai, Shandong Province.
A specially-designed-for-the-tourist-walkway totally encased in glass and Greek-style columns, showcases the bottling line on the left and a cellar housing French-oak barrels on the right. 
Two workers dig a hole for the concrete base for the bronze cowboy and his steady stead, which is reclining in the background.  Somehow, this must be part of the "wine experience" Changyu offers visitors. The workers found a more immediate and practical use for the statue—a hat hanging device.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"Best in the World" award for book on Chinese Wineries.

--> At the international Cookbook Fair in Beijing, China, Janis Miglavs—that's me—received the “Best in the World” award for my most recent book China: The New Wine Frontier.

But the best part of getting the award: the Chinese publisher flew me from Sherwood, Oregon, to Beijing, China, in business class.  

See this big grin on my face, that’s because this was the first publisher to ever fly me anywhere, let alone China, and business class.  You  should see all the different kinds of wine Air Canada offers on Business Class.
For those who couldn't guess, that's me on the far right trying to tell the photographer how to use my camera. I also had to give a 30 second speech. And for those who have never seen me dressed up, I brought an appropriate jacket, but it was too darn hot in Beijing.
After all the people left, the publisher made me sign a stack of books even after I told them that would decrease the value of the 2.2 kilogram tome. It just dawned on me that I should have signed in Chinese characters instead of Latvian.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This Ningxia winery changed my perception of Chinese craftsmanship

When you think of Chinese workmanship, what words come to mind? 

For me, after visiting wineries all over China for the past five years, the descriptors include: Bigger is better, Showy, Poor craftsmanship, Mass produced, Cheap, It won't last long.  I would not have included: hand-crafted with pride.

Yuanshi winery near Yinchuan city in Ningxia Province changed that.

All of the buildings are crafted from local stone. The businessman owner, Mr. Yuan, designed the structures himself, built the winery complex on his family farm all from stone found in the area. 

In the piercing Ningxia desert sun, I watched one craftsman chisel a design of straight lines on a granite-like building block. It will take him five days to finish carving just this one stone.

I can only imagine going into a Zen-like state to chisel this one stone for 10 hours a day.

All day long this craftsman works in the piercing Ningxia desert sun to hand carve a design in the stone. It will take him five days to finish this one building block.
One goal of the owner is to provide jobs for the local people.
Entrance to YuanShi Winery with Helan Mountains in the background.
If the owner takes this much effort to build the winery, imagine the wine. Remind me to talk about that wine in a future post.

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