Saturday, January 24, 2015

A historic Cucamonga winery becomes a lonely island in California's LA sprawl

The southern California sun sets behind the Palomino grape vine which is part of the Galleano Winery estate vineyard in the Cucamonga Valley. This vineyeard was planted in the 1930s.
 Early during Prohibition days, Cucamonga Valley was one of the largest Viticultural areas in California, with more vineyard acreage than Napa and Sonoma combined. During the 40's, the area boasted something like 60 wineries.   

No tasting room should be without a buffalo to watch over visitors at Galleano Winery in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.

Today, even though it has it's own AVA designation, just a handful of producing vineyards survive the Los Angeles' suburban sprawl. And I visited the only 5 wineries I could find, and one of those is only a few years old.

The Galleano Winery fleet of working trucks was once modern. Now they are parked as fond memories and dusty tourist attractants. Cucamonga Valley AVA, southern California.

Galleano Winery is a holdover from that past. Family-owned and operated, they've been producing wines since 1933. 
The office at Galleano Winery hints that this is a down-home historic operation.
 In fact, Galleano is the last remaining bonded, Prohibition-era winery still owned and operated by it's founding family at its original location.  It is even listed on both the California and national Register of Historic Places.  Plus, it's the world’s largest producer of Cucamonga Valley wines.

Workshop at the Galleano Winery on the outskirts of Mira Loma in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.
Besides being a quaint visual historical museum, the winery offers an eclectic assortment of wines (of course they have old vine Zin.), port, cherry and sparkling. Besides the classical old-vine Zin, they have offerings from lesser know grapes like Rose of Peru (in their sherry) and estate-grown
Palomino (a white grape widely grown in Spain and South Africa).

They ferment and age their wines in redwood casks.

The cozy tasting room at Galleano Winery in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.
Finding the wines as interesting as the historical winery remnants, I bought the Vino di Vigna Zinfandel (90% Zin, 10% Petite Sirah) and Three Friends Port—which Galleano claims has "won more international gold medals than any other tawny port in America."

Since the nearest gas station was a distant mirage, Galleano Winery had its own pump  in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.
The place is both a visual and enological attractant. During a short stay in the tasting room, one couple rolled in from Arizona, a man from Illinois, several from the LA area and one guy from Sherwood, Oregon.

What winery should be without a gift shop? During my short visit, my missed my opportunity as the store at Galleano Winery was closed.
I forgot to ask how long Galleano Winery has been a member of California's Wine Institute.  Just in case you didn't know, the Wine Institute is an association of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses that initiate and advocate public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.

As it has for some 80 years, the original barn sits under swaying palm trees at Galleano Winery in the Cucamonga Valley.
Don Galleano, grandson of the founder of Galleano Winery, stands between his shiny new Mercedes and the well-preserved old farm truck.

Los Angeles sprawl of offices, factories, suburb housing and airports now make Galleano Winery a viticultural island in the Cucamonga Valley.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

One of World's Most Amazing Vineyards #5 Romanée-Conti Time Lapse

Time lapse video of clouds and visitors over Romanée-Conti vineyard, in the Cote de Nuits, Burgundy, France.

Romanée-Conti vineyard, in the Cote de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France. 
Romanée-Conti, in the Cote de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France.
Romanée-Conti, in the Cote de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France.
Heavy sulphur spray on the leaves of Romanée-Conti vineyard, in the Cote de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France.
Not all of the grapes are successful in the heavily sulphur sprayed Romanée-Conti vineyard, in the Cote de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France.

Friday, January 9, 2015

First ever: remote African tribal elders draw spiritual stories and archetypal dreams.

Two years into the Africa's Undiscovered First Stories (formerly Africa's Undiscovered Myths) Project*, it dawned on me that I could have the elders, shamans, witchdoctors and storytellers do drawings of their spiritual beliefs and archetypal dreams. 

The result became both a tribal event and resulted in some amazing images. Know that most, if not all, had never drawn before. In fact, one older shaman had never held a pencil before. 

Here are just some of the photographs of the artists—usually some spiritual person—and their drawings.

Dogon Tribe, Mali, Africa
My guide/translator and I hiked several hours across dry hills searching for a well-respected Dogon tribe Hogon (shaman) near the village of Koundou Gina. Success. Almost by accident, we found him. After the elderly spiritual leader explained his archetypal dream about what happens to a person after death, he said that his eyesight was too poor to do a drawing. He then asked his assistant to illustrate the after-death experience under the watchful eyes of villagers who gathered to watch.
The Dogon tribe Hogon's assistant, Antabadara, drew this image showing the deceased's relative offering a sacrifice to an Ama (representation of God) fetish with the dead person watching.

 Himba tribe, Namibia, Africa
I was told that Mbahuma Tjiambiru was the most powerful Himba shaman in the entire Epupa Falls area of Namibia. I believe it, even now. Like many shamans around the world, he used a dried gourd as a rhythmic rattle to help enter his trance.  Then his voice changed pitch and he led me on a wondrous trip.     Himba tribe, Epupa Falls area, Namibia, Africa.
Mbahuma Tjiambiru, the most powerful Himba shaman, drew how his deceased uncle entered his toe. Then Mbahuma became a shaman.    Himba tribe, Epupa Falls area, Namibia, Africa.
A dream of the black Mumba snake.    Himba tribe, Epupa Falls area, Namibia, Africa.

  Himba tribe, Namibia, Africa
Kaunyanunwa Tjambiru, the elderly village medicine man,  had never held a pencil in his long life. Since he used the reflection of a shiny butcher-sized knife to help get into a trance, I asked him to draw what he saw. The whole village come out to watch.   Himba tribe, Otuvero area, Namibia, Africa.
Kaunyanunwa Tjambiru held the pencil tightly as he drew what he saw in the shiny butcher-sized knife when he entered a trance. I have no idea what the drawing represents.   Himba tribe, Otuvero area, Namibia, Africa.

 Himba tribe, Namibia, Africa
I spent many hours with David Kavari, a well-known Himba spiritual leader. After explaining many of his dreams, I asked Mr. Kavari to interpret my dream of twelve headless horsemen riding down a steep  hill. Looking worried, he explained that this was a powerful dream of great danger.   Himba tribe, Otuvero area, Namibia, Africa.
The powerful Himba medicine man, David Kavari, drawing of my twelve headless horsemen dream.   Himba tribe, Otuvero area, Namibia, Africa.
San (Bushman) tribe, Namibia, Africa
This is the senior San elder of a village in front of his house near Namibia's Etosha National ParkThe San, also known as Saan, Bushmen or Basarwa, were once proud hunters with incredible tracking skills. In fact, the Namibian government used them as trackers during the most  recent war. Now the Namibian government completely ignores them.        San (Bushmen) tribe, Namibia, Africa.
The San elder drew his image of God above the clouds. So where does this idea that God is up there come from?  San (Bushman) tribe, Namibia, Africa.

San (Bushman) tribe, Namibia, Africa
  According to genetic DNA markers, the San are among the oldest populations on our planet, a fact totally lost on Geelbooi as he draws various dreams. Geelboi's small village in Namibia, like most of Africa's San, is totally ignored by the government.         San (Bushman) tribe, Namibia, Africa.
As if it were a sign of the disconnect with his proud hunting traditional past, Geelbooi dreamed that the devil (on the right in the drawing) told the hunting Bushman that he could kill the nearby cow instead of going further to find a wild animal. The San (Bushmen) were the best trackers and hunters in Namibia and Botswana, if not all of Africa.   San (Bushmen) tribe, Namibia, Africa.
When asked what happens to a dead person after he dies, Geelbooi (pronounced Hilboy) drew the spirit leaving the dead body. He also told me that the deceased person's village had to move to another location to prevent another person from dying soon.    San (Bushman) tribe, Namibia, Africa.
In one of his dreams, Geelbooi saw the moon drop from the sky to earth. When asked what that meant, the dreaming artist replied, "nothing." Interestingly, the moon figures prominently in San myths. My sense was that Goolbooi had lost touch with his tribe's traditional past.    San (Bushman) tribe, Namibia, Africa.
Bedik tribe, Senegal, Africa
I visited Senegal's remote Bedik tribe twice. Both times the stories they reported were exactly the same. Here chief Jean Baptiste Keita draws exactly what one of the spirits looks, except he complained that he did not know how to illustrate the feet..  Bedik tribe, Senegal, Africa.
I was very impressed with the detail drawn by chief Jean Baptiste Keita of one Bedik spirit. Chief Keita explained that they have only one God, but many spirits. Westerners would call them animists.    Bedik tribe, Senegal, Africa.

* Africa's Undiscovered First Stories Project:   For the past 15 years I've been traveling to Africa's most remote tribes to learn from the elders, shamans, witch doctors, chiefs and storytellers about their spiritual stories and archetypal dreams. My eventual goal is to share this information with the world in some faint hope developing a realization that all of our stories come from the same source.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Would you bury deceased parents in the vineyard?

A number of Chinese vineyards I've visited have grave sites scattered between the rows of vines.

A burial site sits in the middle of a vineyard where Dynasty Winery sources fruit in Tianjin Province, China.
Grave markers dot vineyards just above Yellow Valley, Shanxi Province, China. Grace Winery gets fruit from these contract farmers. 
These graves border COFCO's Chateau Junding Winery estate vineyard in Nava Valley near Penglai, Shandong Province.  Chateau Junding, Penglai, Shandong Province, China.

All images international copyright 2015 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

The Ethiopian Mursi tribe turned their Botox equivalent into profit.

Tourists now flock to Ethiopia's Omo region to gawk at Mursi women with their clay lip plates. 

Originally created as a mark of beauty, now Ethiopia's Omo region Mursi women have turned their lip plates into a tourist attraction.  Ethiopia, Omo Valley, Mursi tribe, Africa.

Over the past 14 years I've traveled to the Omo, I've seen the Mursi turn their tortuous marks of beauty increasingly into Disney-like tourist attractions. "You, you, you. Photograph me." Now it costs 10 Birr a shutter click.

Watching the spectacle on my visit last January, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the camera-toting tourist's use Botox or other beauty treatments. 

It just seems to me that the Mursi have turned their Botox equivalent into profit.

Here a Mursi woman puts the finishing touches on a new clay lip disk.   Ethiopia, Omo Valley, Mursi tribe, Africa.
After shaping the clay disks, these Mursi women fire the plates in an open fire.  Ethiopia, Omo Valley, Mursi tribe, Africa.
  Since the Mursi have become such Disney-like tourist attractions, capturing casual relaxed photographs like these of women actually creating their lip disks would be very difficult. Today, it's like holding a greased pig at the state fair.  Now it is all about the money for each  shutter click.  Ethiopia, Omo Valley, Mursi tribe, Africa.
Besides the lip disks, Mursi women also pluck eye lashes to beautify themselves. On another note, when I took these photographs in 2001, it was my understanding that the women were not suppose to appear in front of foreigners without their disks inserted. Obviously, spending 5 weeks in the area made me less of a stranger.           Ethiopia, Omo Valley, Mursi tribe, Africa.
I can't imagine plucking my eye lashes.  And here you can clearly see what the stretched lip looks like without an inserted disk.    Ethiopia, Omo Valley, Mursi tribe, Africa.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One of World's Most Amazing Vineyards #4 Ancient Lakes

Massive silt-filled flooding and raw scrapping by the Pacific Northwest's mightiest river, the Columbia, describes the geological history of one of Washington States newer AVAs, the Ancient Lakes. 

Cave B Estate Vineyards:     About 100 acres of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Tempranillo make up the Cave B Estate Vineyards some 900 feet above the massive Columbia River. Although humans have lived along the river for more than 10,000 years, modern engineering in the 19th and 20th centuries has dramatically altered the Columbia to that point that some scientists believe that today the river is environmentally threatened.

A quick peek at photographs of the region instantly reveal the AVA's tormented geology located smack in the middle of the state having the second most vineyard land in the USA.

Instead of just one, lets feel the hot dry Autumn air at two Ancient Lakes AVA's vineyards: Cave B Estate Winery and White Heron Cellars.

Cave B Estate Vineyards:      Cave B Winery and Resort are about 20 minutes south of Quincy, Washington. The Columbia flows some 1,200 miles, from the base of the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon.
Cave B Estate Vineyards:      At Cave B, the red grape varieties are planted closest to the river, while Germanic white varieties are planted a mile to the east, where a shorter growing season, and slightly cooler temperatures prevail.
White Heron Cellars:    Smack in the middle of Washington State, the White Heron Cellars' vineyard and winery site overlook the powerful geology-carving Columbia River and in the distance, the undulating foothills of the Cascade Range. Estate varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Syrah, Rousanne and Viognier.
White Heron Cellars:      The White Heron Cellars' vineyard address is part of the tiny, nearly ghost town of Trinidad, between Quincy and Wenatchee, above the the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia, as it gouges through the center of Washington State.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

One of World's Most Amazing Vineyards #3 San Vicente de la Sonsierra

The vineyards surrounding the ancient village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in the La Rioja region of northern Spain make one of the most picturesque scenes in all of Spain, perhaps all of Europe. Many of the vines are at least 80 to 100 years old.

Set on a hill surrounded by a wall that incorporates a church, a castle and the chapel of Vera Cruz, where I believe the world's only ancestral procession of Los Picaos takes place. Surrounding the vineyard are rolling hills studded with old-vine vineyards.

The sun sets behind the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra perched on a hill top in the La Rioja region of northern Spain. Many of the approximately 1200 village people work in the surrounding vineyards and farmland.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2015