“Legacy of Celebration: Napa Winemaker Xinyue Zhang’s Red Wine Tradition”

Red Wine Tradition: A Legacy of Celebration for Napa Winemaker Xinyue Zhang

For Napa Valley winemaker Xinyue Zhang, red wine has always held a special place in her heart, symbolizing celebration and familial legacy. Hailing from the northern Chinese province of Hebei, Zhang is the third generation in her family to embrace the art of winemaking—a tradition initiated by her grandfather, Yan Shengjie, hailed as China’s pioneering modern winemaker.

Yan’s journey into winemaking was inspired by an encounter with former U.S. President Richard Nixon, who presented then-Premier Zhou Enlai with a bottle of Schramsberg Vineyards sparkling wine from Napa Valley in the 1970s. Tasked by Premier Zhou to elevate China’s winemaking standards, Yan’s dedication paved the way for future generations, including Zhang herself.

Zhang fondly recalls her childhood spent alongside her grandfather in the cellar, a formative experience that ignited her passion for winemaking. “I always knew I wanted to be a winemaker,” Zhang reminisces, as she continues her family’s legacy through her own label, 70s Love, specializing in small-lot petite sirah in Napa Valley. The name serves as a tribute to her grandfather’s influence and the enduring friendship between China and the U.S.

Cultural Connections and Wine Preferences

In China, where the color red holds profound cultural significance, Zhang and many others share a preference for red wine over white. This preference stems from red’s association with joy, luck, and prosperity—qualities synonymous with Chinese New Year and other celebratory occasions.

Explaining the tradition, Zhang notes, “That’s why we drink red wine on Chinese New Year. It’s a time to think about the things that make us happy.” As Lunar New Year approaches on February 10th, Zhang reflects on her heritage and plans to celebrate with a pairing of her Napa Valley petite sirah and traditional dumplings—a harmonious blend of old and new traditions.

Embracing Tradition with Wine and Cuisine

For Zhang, the versatility of petite sirah makes it the perfect accompaniment to a variety of dishes, including the classic flavors of pork, Chinese chives, woodear mushrooms, and fresh shrimp found in traditional Lunar New Year dumplings. “But petite sirah isn’t picky,” Zhang remarks with a smile, emphasizing its adaptability to any culinary pairing.

As Lunar New Year festivities commence, Zhang’s story serves as a testament to the enduring bonds between culture, tradition, and the timeless pleasure of sharing a glass of red wine with loved ones.

kritika patel

Writer & Blogger

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