Making a great wine is an orchestration of art and science, passion and hard work. ShunYi Cellars caught my attention recently, which started with the Founder’s personal story of wine discovery that inspired his mission to craft quality wines showcasing premium Californian terroir to bridge cultures and share values.
Meaning of Shun Yi
Emperor Shun, highly regarded for his wisdom and integrity, is said to come from the city of Jinan in Shandong Provence, where Founder George Zhang was born. Residents of Jinan are known as “Shun Yi” – descendants of Shun. Interestingly, Shandong is also home to multiple UNESCO sites, the birthplace of Confucius, and a hub for Buddhist and Taoist scholars.
Masterminds behind ShunYi
George developed a passion for wine especially while managing Credit Risk for a major bank in Napa, where he gained deep knowledge of wine business operations and a strong network. He partnered with esteemed winemaker Byron Kosuge, a Davis native with 30 years of winemaking experience, known for his premium Pinot Noir finesse, to start ShunYi in summer 2019. As of today, ShunYi is already working on their second harvest featuring St. Helena, while preparing to release their inaugural 2019 vintage in early 2021, a very small production of Santa Lucia Mountains Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Wine with a Heart
Each bottle tells a personal story which may also resonate with many. The wines are ingeniously named, the Pinot Noir, “Chong Feng” 重逢 , to reunite, and the Chardonnay, “Xiang Si” 相思, a deep sentiment of thinking about loved ones. George’s father was a scholar in California during George’s childhood in China, before his family moved over. George still remembers reuniting with his father at the train station when he returned from his studies. Having lived in California for over half his life now, George still feels deep sentiment for loved ones around the world. The beauty of wine is sharing it as a gift of love and are even when apart, as we have experienced especially since the pandemic.
Tradition meets Modern
The unique artistry of the bottles struck me: I have never seen a wine label with Chinese calligraphy against an elegant Chinese painting background – a touch of tradition meets modern, east meets west. The ShunYi logo is embossed at the metal capsule of every bottle.
What’s next? California wine + Chinese food pairing
Although ShunYi is not officially on the market, they are actively sharing their winemaking journey on social media, and I have joined their mailing list. ShunYi also plans to partner with select fine Chinese restaurants. How does Chinese food pair with wine? More than sweet and sour pork, Chinese cuisine encompasses a diversity of regional cuisines. George recently enjoyed a rich Peking Duck with luscious Pinot Noir, for instance. Pinot Noir, especially from cooler climates with less tannins and bright acidity, pairs well with fattier pork and duck, or even fried foods. A crisp, less oaky Chardonnay pairs well with stir fries like fried rice, noodles, moo shu pork, or even dim sum. Try it for yourself!