Welcome to ‘Q&8’, a new series focused on Ningxia wine trade people. We ask 8 questions, they give 8 answers. First up is chief winemaker Zhang Jing from Helan Qing Xue, who talks about her winery’s name, the lessons she learned abroad and what she’d do if she weren’t in the wine business.
1 Most Chinese have three characters in their names. Why do you only have two? And what does your name mean?
Two characters means I am special, ha ha. Zhang is my family name and Jing means peace or tranquility. I guess my parents wished me a peaceful and simple life when I was born. That could also be why they selected a shorter name for me. Anyway, two-character names are popular in China.
2 Helan Qingxue *does* have three characters. What does the winery’s name mean in English?
Helan Qingxue has four characters! [I am bad at counting!—Editor] ‘Helan’ is for the Helan mountain range, ‘qing’ means sunny day and ‘xue’ means snow. An English translation would be something like, “Snowy Helan Mountain in the sunlight.”
3 What is your favorite vintage at Helan Qingxue?
You should not ask me this question. It’s like asking someone which of their children is the favorite.
4 You studied wine in France. What’s the most important lesson you learned?
Most of the lessons were about tasting.
5. You are experimenting with Malbec. Blend or single variety?
We planted Malbec five years ago and the 2019 vintage was our first harvest. We did a single-variety wine with a limited number of bottles. The Malbec is looking good, with a medium body and fresh magical aromas.
6 If you did not work in the wine industry, what job would you want?
Good question. I would be a kindergarten teacher. I love kids.
7 You spent time at Chapel Hill in Australia. What surprised you most in Australia’s wine industry?
I did vintages at both Chapel Hill and Yering Station, in two different regions of Australia. I learned that working in a wine cellar could also be fun, that we can make not only very serious wines but also some fun wines. That’s why I started to make something different, under the brand “Baby Feet”, after I returned to China.
8 What do you do in your free time?
I like cooking and drinking with my family and friends. For hobbies, I have lots, ha ha. Playing ping pong, taking photos, traveling, listening to music, reading books, climbing mountains and more.
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