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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Did we (modern man) or Neanderthals create the first religion (myths) trying to answer life's big questions?

Could this be what the dawn of man looked like? On my research trip this year, I took this photograph of a sunrise over the remote Mursi tribal village of Belle in Ethiopia's Omo region. During my stay in this village, I imagined that our modern man ancestors lived like this before a few walked out of Africa to populate our planet.

In 1856, in a cave in Germany's Neander Valley, Neanderthals were the first hominid ancestor to be discovered.

Comparison of the DNA of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens suggests that they diverged from a common ancestor, probably Homo heidelbergensis, who originated between 800,000 and 1,300,000 years ago. This evolutionary ancestor continued living in Africa, Europe and Western Asia until they vanished about 200,000 years ago.

Then, for some unexplained reason, between 350,000 and 400,000 years ago the African branch is thought to have started evolving towards modern humans and the Eurasian branch towards Neanderthals.

About 50,000 to 60,000 years ago modern man walked out of Africa to eventually populate our planet, according to Mitochondrial DNA. DNA also tells us that modern man and Neanderthals mixed.

In all of this evolutionary history, which of our ancestral storytellers tried to answer our mysterious big questions of life on earth?  Who created the first myth?

Was it Neanderthals or us modern Homo sapiens who first began asking about the creation of earth, and the creation of man? 

And what about archetypal dreams?