Reflecting on AAPI Heritage Month in Oregon

May was AAPI Heritage Month and we celebrated by participating in the Willamette Valley’s 2nd Annual AAPI Food & Wine Festival.

We also partnered with new restaurant Xiao Ye (Owners Louis & Jolyn shown below) in Portland for a special three night wine and food pairing menu. 

We were curious about Winemaker Sashi Moorman’s Japanese heritage, so we asked him to share a little bit about the Japanese culture and how it shaped him.

Sashi, are there any Japanese traditions from your childhood that you remember fondly?

Food played a big role. My mother did all of the cooking, and I grew up eating Japanese food, so that's very important to me. I cook mostly western European food, but I do still cook some Japanese food.

What's a dish that you remember fondly that your mother would cook growing up?

When I was a child, I loved tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is made from pork, but now I make it at home with chicken, like chicken katsu. Juliet loves it. It's a part of food and family culture that we share together.

Has your Japanese heritage in any way influenced your approach to winemaking or your winemaking career?

Japanese culture values craftsmanship. As a country, Japan is so old. They have extremely specialized and skilled craftsmen who make everything from teacups to knives and all kinds of artistic pursuits. ⁠

I think that’s probably one of the reasons why after graduating from college I was more interested in pursuing something that was made. I wanted to work with something that was more tangible, that was right in front of me. So cooking was first, and then winemaking was second.

I think Japanese culture also highly values nature and it’s certainly one of the aspects that is important to me about the wine industry –  the natural world in terms of growing grapevines, and planting grapevines. It’s this idea of transforming the landscape into something that produces something else.

Tell us about the ceremony you attended in Japan where your mother was honored. 

Recently, my mom received a medal from the Emperor of Japan, the Order of the Rising Sun. It is for members, for Japanese people who have done an exemplary job at promoting Japanese culture. My mother is a Japanese language teacher at a high school outside of Washington, D.C. and she has been very active in bringing American students to Japan in the summertime. And she's very active with the Japanese embassy in Washington.

She's part of a group of Japanese language instructors here in the US that created and promoted the Japanese AP exam, which is encouraging more and more high schools to teach Japanese today. 

It was a special experience to be there with her when she won this award, it’s a great honor for her. 

To learn more about Sashi, click here.