Saturday, October 31, 2015

Chinese Winery art reveals Confucius' opinion of wine, women and food

Some say that art reveals the truth. 

So is Confucius wearing a Mona Lisa grin of pleasure in this sculpture at the Dynasty Winery chateau? Well, what's not to enjoy with wine, women and grapes at your feet? (Check out those two voluptuous young maidens, who look like they just flew in from India.)

This revealing sculpture of Confucius sits near the production area at Dynasty Winery, one of China's big three wine producers and a joint venture with France's beverage giant, Remy Cointreau. Tianjin, China.

And it looks as if he is about to enjoy a taste from the wine cup he is holding.  (Yes, those of you who were around 2500 years ago would recognize the wine cup.)

Actually a slightly deeper look into the philosopher's actual teachings finds the Dynasty Winery artwork is not far from the mark. In fact, Confucian insights into food and wine from 2500 years ago seem surprisingly contemporary. For example, about culinary and enological practices, he espoused protecting the environment, eating seasonally and drinking in moderation.

Today Confucianism is enjoying an enthusiastic revival in China, even among government officials.  

However, from what I see during my visits to the Land of the Dragon, there is one teaching that contemporary Chinese—and foreign visitors—seem to totally ignore

Two Wine educators at Chateau Changyu AFIP Global teach Janis the finer points of drinking wine Chinese style.

Confucius' call for moderation in drinking seems to be left behind in the empty wine bottle. The Chinese call their style of bottoms up quaffing "ganbei". I've been to dinners where we toasted 20 ganbeis and some had to be carried out.

The Chinese call it gānbēi.

Perhaps the Confucian Mona Lisa-like grin has turned to a look of disgust.

All photographs and text © 2015 Janis Miglavs

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life Lessons from the Vineyard: Jerry Seps, Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Napa Valley

Janis: Jerry, you were a college professor turned winemaker and owner. What was your first eye opening experience in when you started the wine adventure?

Jerry Seps: When I told my banker I wanted to do a vineyard and winery, he told me: "You have a far greater appetite for risk than we do at the bank."

Winter storm in vineyard.

That's why I joke that I don't play the lottery, I farm.

If we have a low crop, we don't have enough goods to sell. Then we can't service our loans and keep the business going. And, this is an expensive business to run.

I try not to get frustrated, but rather, turn it into a challenge to find a solution.

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Jerry Seps, college professor turned Owner-Winemaker, Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Napa Valley, California

Storybook has historic roots dating back to the 1880s when the Grimm brothers—Jacob and Adam, not the famous storytellers—founded a winery which made Zinfandel. But by 1940 the property and winery ceased operation. Jerry and wife Sigrid bought the property in 1976 to plant and make Zinfandel.

From Vineyard Light: 100 Lessons from Vineyard

Monday, October 5, 2015

Procrastination cured by sleepless night

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, couldn't go back to sleep, and finally got up to do something productive? 

Single small figure walking between thatched-roof huts in the Bedik tribe village of Iwol, Senegal.
This morning I got up at 2:30 AM and started writing the first chapter of the Five Fingers Myth Project. After 15 years of studying with the most remote tribes in Africa it's about time to write.

As part of their initiation into manhood these Bedik boys must run all day for one month through their village of Iwol, in Senegal, West Africa