An indispensable figure at Silver Heights is winemaker Thierry Courtade. Born in in the famous wine-making region of Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux to a family with more than 50 years of wine-making history at Château Calon-Ségur, Thierry moved to Yinchuan in 2012. Due to his cheerful personality, he was given the Chinese name “吉利” meaning lucky or auspicious.
Thierry's better half, Gao Yuan, commonly called Emma, was born and raised right here in Yinchuan, back when the city was a small provincial town. After studying in St. Petersburg for a time, she set off to study in Bordeaux and there discovered her love of wine and passion for wine making.
Emma and Thierry met while working at Château Calon-Ségur and muse that the chateau's famous heart-shaped label, often given as a romantic gift, was a sign that they two were destined to become a happy couple. Their love has no better expression than the winery they opened together, Silver Heights.
Owners & Winemakers
Emma Gao Yuan (高源) & Thierry Courtade
Very few people know Ningxia better than the patriarch of Silver Heights, Gao Lin. Although he was born in neighboring Shanxi province, he moved to Yinchuan over fifty years ago and has been working here ever since. Gao Lin began as a garment manufacturer in the days when Yinchuan was a small town of only 20,000, and has since watched it grow to a bustling metropolis of over 2 million!
In the early 1990s, Gao Lin partnered with a friend to plant some of the first vines in Ningxia. Inspired by the vines' response to the local soil and climate, he sent his youngest daughter, Emma, to Bordeaux to learn wine-making. He didn't expect her to return with not just a diplôme national d’oenologue, but also a French husband and daughter!
Now over seventy years of age, Gao Lin is still a regular fixture at the winery, receiving guests, helping at harvest, and coordinating monthly employee barbecues.
Gao Lin (高林)
Chen Wei's family has been farming rice only 20 kilometers from Silver Heights for four generations. A recent graduate from the newly founded Ningxia Wine Engineering Technical College where he studied Wine Engineering, Chen Wei is excited to begin his apprenticeship under Thierry and Emma.
When not making wine, Chen Wei is usually visiting his family, enjoying sci-fi films, and attempting to conquer his next challange, learning French!
Chen Wei (陈伟)
Born and raised in a farming family in a small town in the North of Ningxia alongside his younger sister, Yin Qiang is also a recent graduate of Ningxia Wine Engineering Technical College in Wine Engineering. Yin Qiang's love of grape cultivation arises from his life-long connection to the soil, weather, and terroir of Helan Mountain.
Yin Qiang is infamous around the winery for his love of practical jokes and martial arts novels, and hopes one day to be able to visit other world wine regions.
Yin Qiang (尹强）
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and educated in Chicago and Paris, Alexa found herself in Beijing in 2014 somewhat by accident. Although her first few years in China were spent torturing herself (aka learning Mandarin), during this period she also became very interested in the Chinese wine market. A long-time wine lover, Alexa wanted to take things to the next level by working at a winery. She booked a flight to the mysterious city of Yinchuan and set off to find the wineries of Ningxia. After knocking on many winery doors and receiving many confused looks, she met Emma Gao, who welcomed her on board.
Alexa now manages Silver Heights' rapidly growing exports, as well as any other English or French communications, from Bordeaux, where she is pursuing a Master degree.