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

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