Author/作者: 杜小雯 (Xiao)
English Editor/英文母语编辑: Isabell (伊莎)
眼睛累了不想看屏幕？在路上不方便阅读？您可以来听作者们为您朗读的这个博客喔！Don’t feel like reading? You don’t have to! Tune in to listen to our authors read you this blog.
中文原声 – Chinese by 杜小雯 (Xiao)
英文原声 – English by Isabell (伊莎)
In the academic year 2010/11, I was in Yinchuan. One year of study along with two months’ of work experience in a restaurant – it flew by, and I was left with a special sentimental feeling for Yinchuan city. It was here that I graduated from preparatory school ranking 1st in the class, going onto successfully being selected for my dream major – Enology; the wine industry has been booming here in recent years and this place has become the most famous high-quality domestic wine producing area in China. So it was fate, I realised that my life was destined for the wine industry.
The private family winery model is very common in Europe, however, for developing China, state-owned enterprises are still playing a major role in the marketplace. There are only a handful of real family wineries in China, and today, we will focus on Silver Heights at the foot of Helan Mountain, where one can find a few of these genuine “family” wineries, where two generations of hard work continues to this day. Yinchuan is the capital of Ningxia Hui’s Autonomous Region. Ningxia has high terrain in the south and a low terrain to the north, with an altitude from 1100 to 2000 meters, to a maximum of 3556 meters. The climate is dry, an ideal combination for vine growing, and people say that: “Yellow River makes Ningxia rich and fertile”, this is said because there is plenty of Yellow River water for irrigation. Silver Heights is located in the Helan Region. This region is located in the north of Helan Mountain – Suyukou with alluvial landforms, the soil types include heavy gravel and sandy soil. The closer the soil is to Helan Mountain, the larger and more prevalent the amount of gravel.
In 1999, Gao Lin, founder of Silver Heights had a premonition that one day his home in Ningxia would become a popular world-class wine producing area. He began to grow Cabernet Sauvignon imported from France and persuaded his daughter Gao Yuan (also known as Emma) to study towards a master’s degree in wine making in Bordeaux, France. Emma jokes that when she was 22 years old and she heard her father say he wanted her to go and study in France, she jumped at the idea, agreeing immediately, without thought. Emma went onto successfully obtaining the French National Winemaker Certificate. Deeply influenced by France, Emma insists on the traditional French winemaking technology, so the winery’s wines tend to be created in the old world style. After returning home, Emma took on the position of training lecturer in Torres China. She learned about the wine market by working in the market, but she never gave up enology. At the beginning of her career, she arranged an agreement with Torres to take three months off each year to return to Ningxia for the harvest. In 2011, as it happened, five-star hotels such as Shangri-La, Kempinski and Marriott invited Torres to recommend 10 excellent wines through a bidding process. Emma seized this rare opportunity and submitted two of her wines for the bidding. In the end, the two wines stood out and helped the Silver Heights enter into the high-end wine market. Noticing Emma’s talent for winemaking, Torres encouraged her to be a full-time winemaker and promised to take responsibility for the sales of Sliver Heights.
银色高地的背后还有着一个美丽的爱情故事。高源在著名的凯隆世家（Calon Ségur）实习时，认识了出生于酿酒世家的法国酿酒师Thierry Courtade。Courtade坦承自己从第一次见面就被高源的美丽深深打动，热情地带着她去探访各个名庄和他的家乡，高源则请他吃中国菜、感受中国文化。2004年，感觉自己“从头到脚都处于热恋中”的Courtade 和高源两人步入了婚姻的殿堂。最初两人不得不为了各自的事业分居两地。Courtade在凯隆世家庄园担任了24年的酒窖大师。当时机成熟、Courtade最终决定离开法国来宁夏定居、并正式加入银色高地。
Behind Silver Heights lies a beautiful love story. During her internship at Calon-Ségur, Emma met Thierry Courtade, a French winemaker whose family has been making wine at Calon-Ségur for three generations. Courtade admitted that he fell deeply in love with Emma at first sight, her beauty and warm nature was striking. He took her to visit various wineries and his hometown, in return, Emma would invite him to experience Chinese food and culture. In 2004, Courtade and Emma fell “deeply in love from head to toe” and married. At first, the two had to live apart for their respective careers. Courtade had worked as the cellar master for 24 years at Château Calon Ségur. When the time was right, Courtade finally decided to leave France, settle down in Ningxia and formally join Silver Heights.
Emma’s father has always remembered his original vision: making top-tier Chinese wine and turning Silver Heights into a family winery which could be passed down from one generation to another. Emma is a very cheerful lady who always carries a big smile on her face. I have been lucky enough to meet her several times at the Vinitaly exhibitions and events. I was able to witness her exchange her views with wine experts from all over the world, at the tastings and seminars. She is extremely modest and keen to learn, she explains that our Chinese wine industry is still in the learning phase! Emma is also a great writer, she publishes many articles on their official WeChat channel. In one such article she says that the conversation between herself and her husband always seems to come back to winemaking. The only exception to this topic is their daughter, who also named as Emma. However, the conversations always somehow come back to winemaking, like: “When should we teach little Emma to make wine?” It seems their kind of winemaking is a family mission, one that flows in the blood!
Gao Lin’s high vision has established Emma, as a well-known winemaker in China. Up until today, her father is still standing behind his daughter and helping her to take care of the family vineyard – cooperation is a common thread in the case of family wineries. Now, Emma’s husband (whose Chinese name is “Jili”, meaning good luck in Chinese) has become one of the core winemakers in the winery. Emma’s father and her husband control the quality of wine in the vineyard and cellar respectively. Emma is a happy woman indeed and this is apparent when she speaks, with her gentle words and cheerful disposition. Armed with her father’s foresight, she has embarked on a road of self-realization. Perhaps this is an example of a true family bond between a father and daughter, this bond is without elaborate words but it will make your heart melt!
May the Silver Heights winemaking family go further and further on their road to producing great quality wine!