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.
Chinese – 中文原声 – 杜小雯 （Xiao）
English – 英文原声 – Isabell (伊莎)
In the Vinifera EuroMaster’s class, the teachers always fly in from different European countries to give module lectures, the modules lasts from several days to a couple of weeks. Since there are new professors almost every week, it was a regular routine for the whole class to introduce themselves one by one. One of the phrases I used most often to introduce myself was: “I graduated from Asia’s first College of Enology…” In that instant, you could measure the pride in my tone, that eagerness to rush out of Asia to head out into the world to show everyone what a great Chinese enology education can do. However, even with immense pride, I should stress that the graduates from our college are humble and modest people, myself included.
During the harvest at Sonoma Coast in California back in 2016, I often put on our College T-shirt. There was always an inexplicable sense of happiness in my heart as I donned the College motto written in bold black on my back. From time to time, I would translate the meaning of the sentence to curious colleagues from different parts of the world, “Farming the land is like cultivating our hearts, crafting wines makes us a better person”. Thereafter, as each of them conveyed how touched they were by the profound message expressed through Chinese culture, an extra bright smile would appear on my face.
Indeed, I am sincerely proud of my alma mater, the College of Enology at Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University (here onward referred to as “Xi Nong”). I also feel blessed to be one of its alumni.
Our alma mater is located in a quiet town —— Yangling. Here, students want for nothing, and there is no noise; the serenity of this place is magical. I am really glad of the four years I spent here. During ones university years, as a young adult’s personality is being moulded, this is a place where one can grow up serenely. Xi Nong College of Enology, was a second home and where we grew up; the place that launched us into our future.
Time was spent practicing viticulture training in the vineyard, undertaking meticulous lessons in the laboratory, morning reading under the trees in front of the 3rd building as well as the library, striving to stand out from the talented and versatile competition and burning the midnight oil in the study hall – our alma mater gave us comprehensive training to be sure. The down-to-earth and strong academic atmosphere here has distinguished the Xi Nong students and alumni alike, endowing them with a particularly solid and diligent brand: the Xi Nong Enology graduates are not only able to discuss and evaluate wine in a professional and elegant manner, but at the same time, we are more familiar with the growing process of grapes in the vineyard, and can also appreciate the constant back-breaking work of the vineyard managers; there is more respect for the attentive care and craftsmanship put in by winemakers in the cellar. Majors include subjects that range from everything surrounding the vineyard to the final product on the dining table, these courses of study embody the versatility and endurance of the Xi Nong College of Enology day after day, year after year; building on the growth of its students over time.
During these years of study and afterwards, while earning a living abroad, my alma mater has always been like a lighthouse, illuminating my way forward. Whether prior to graduation, during my internship, when my muscles were too sore to continue, after a hard days labor during the harvest, to long after graduation throughout my underpaid internship period, during my first contracted employment, Xi Nong’s motto remained embedded in my mind, “honesty, simplicity, courage and perseverance”, these words have encouraged me to move forward and embrace the big picture and imagine a brighter future.
All of this is thanks to academic Professor Li Hua’s courage 40 years ago, after returning from Bordeaux, France to establish the first College of Enology in Asia. From the very beginning, the heart of his vision has not changed. Up to now, the wine industry in all parts of China is full of excellent Xi Nong graduates, acting as the backbones in its own field, and there is no shortage of graduate wine people in wine producing areas all over the world, who contribute to the wine industry on a daily basis. Our alma mater has taught us to be resolute and to do things conscientiously; steadfast qualities that shine everywhere.
那些年的青春，我们从西农葡萄酒学院走过。四年的时光，并不短暂、然而终究逝去了。大学的日子，如此让人怀念。令人怀念的，是有选择的青春、是那些年在西农的美好光景。再度回首，有种时光穿越的沧桑感。老学院已经改成了有着诗意名字的葡萄酒博物馆 – “葡萄美酒夜光杯”。当年举办毕业典礼时建好的新楼已经成为了葡萄酒学院的新教学楼。在母校生日之际，送上稍晚一点儿的祝福！请等着我们，我们将回家看您！
The years spent at Xi Nong College of Enology were happy ones. Four years is definitely not a short time, but it passed quickly. My college days were so memorable, and what fills so many of us with sentimentality are the moments spent reminiscing about the simple life as a scholar, when life was full of choices and those good old times were piled high with challenging activities.
Looking back, I am reminded of the vicissitudes of time and how quickly it passes; but time marches forward, always bringing new changes with it. Today, the old college has been turned into a wine museum and given a romantic name, taken from a traditional Chinese poem: “Fine wine in a luminous glass”. In addition, the brand-new building where our graduation ceremony was held has now become a new teaching building for the College of Enology.
On this occasion of our alma mater’s birthday, I wish her all the best from the bottom of my heart. Our dedication to the college comes a few days after the celebrations (The 26th birthday of College of Enology was on 20th April 2020) and I hope our words of gratitude are well met.
Please wait for us, we will be home to visit you soon!
How do we treat wine like our first love? Many of the “dark horses” in the wine industry are cross-border elites who eventually obtain the title of “Master of Wine”, with it they gain the possibility of finding both fame and fortune. As enology graduates with years systematic training, how do we treat wine as if it were our first love? Especially after that “7-year itch” that occurs after having lived and breathed wine since we were 18 or 19 years old? The obvious answer is to maintain a strong sense of curiosity and that thirst for knowledge, constantly challenging ourselves to strive for more, no matter what path was taken in the sector. In the end, those who reach the summit of their field are those who set out with clear goals and persevered, whether they were hawks or snails（there are only 2 types of animals that can reach the top of a pyramid: hawks and snails.); there is also a similar western saying that “All roads lead to Rome”. Each highly-skilled vineyard grower, winemaker, marketer, sommelier or salesperson setting down a different path to of reach the top of their game can maintain that first love of wine regardless; I sincerely welcome all teachers, elders and younger alumni to communicate and encourage each other in this passion-filled endeavour, together.
As we reach the end of this blog, I would like to humbly present a Chinese-English bilingual wine media project co-founded by English mother-tongue wine writer Isabell and myself. Helios Wine Media was created to share wine knowledge as well as build a bridge between those wine loving spirits in the east and the west. I sincerely invite our the brothers and sisters in the alumni to follow our daily update on WeChat, it’s a huge commitment and we live to make it happen. We all know that we are not living in an era where one can simply rely on a fine wine (or good people) alone to gain a good reputation; compelling story-telling and flexible digital marketing strategies are essential elements to stand out in any crowd. We hope we can use this platform to share our passion for wine and spread the word about our beloved Xi Nong College of Enology, its excellent alumni and the continued success of the Chinese wine industry on both Chinese and Western social media platforms.
Xi Nong Enology graduate of class 2011-15 who has been working in Italy for 2.5 years,