Readers on this blog know I post pictures from time to time. Today, I was at Napa Valley checking out fall foliage. Below are few taken at the Baldacci Family Vineyards next to Silverado Trail road. There is a China connection too. Napa Valley was a mining town and saw the first wave of laborers from Canton province in the 1860s into California. (More on the Chinese connection later.) Immediately below is a bundle of grapes still hanging on the vine while harvest season is well over now. Wineries in Napa Valley are busy processing grapes; squeezing out the juice, fermenting, and then aging to produce wine.
Before the grape vines shed their leaves, they turn yellow, orange, and red. Today, I was hoping for the Californian golden sun, but alas it was overcast. The rolling hills of vines neatly in columns with colorful leaves still make for an amazing view. I guess I have an excuse to return until the weather is right.
Our eyes naturally find patterns pleasing. Photography oftentimes is about spotting patterns, including finding them near the ground!
Okay, so, what’s the interesting ‘Chinese’ connection? According to wikipedia.org:
In 1858 the great silver rush began in Napa Valley, and miners flocked to the eastern hills. In the 1860s, mining carried on, on a large scale, with quicksilver mines operating in many areas of Napa County. At this time, the first wave of rural, foreign laborers from coastal villages of China’s Canton province arrived in California, and at Napa County mines. Global investment bankers and national trading companies, especially British, imported this first wave of cheap workers to do the manual labor needed to build a country. In contrast, the 49ers were often literate Anglo-Americans from the East concerned about the rights of labor. Gold rush wages were high with California enjoying a demand for workers. This condition set in motion a clash that resulted in the White Workingman’s Party movement. Napa Valley vintner Charles Krug was treasurer. The socialist Kearny led the Party to control the State government in the 1870s. These predominately Irish- or German-born newcomers eventually passed the “anti-stick” legislation that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act. The racial prejudices against the Chinese, the end of slavery in Brazil, and the Civil War in the United States, saw the need to recruit a new group for doing the dirty work to expand global trade and commerce. For investors (especially in Northern Europe), this reality changed the source of labor to Southern Europeans, mostly Catholic. The next wave of cheap laborers also came from coastal provinces; but close to the Port of Genova in Italy. In the 1880s, these illiterate young men from the hillside villages of Valbrevenna signed contracts as braccianti with shipping companies for passage to work in Napa County silver mines at Knoxville, Oat Hill, the Sierra foothills and on ranches in Uruguay-Argentina. America was an opportunity for young people to own good land. The wives and family came later. In the history of Napa, the names of Arata, Banchero, Bartolucci, Borreo, Brovelli, Forni, Rossi, Navone, Massa, Nichelini, Vasconi, are surnames of many families who re-planted their roots from Switzerland’s Ticino region, Italy’s Piedmont areas of Lago Maggiore and Cuneo Valley, Genova’s inland hills of Valbrevenna, and along the Riviera Coast from Lucca into France.
The above passage is not exactly clear who was directly responsible for the Chinese Exclusion Act, but it seems to imply it was the Napa Valley vintners. Once the Chinese were excluded, they imported laborers from southern Europe.