Seeking info about Ningxia and wine? The posts below from sibling blog Grape Wall of China should help until I have time to transition this site from a focus on the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge to the region in general.
This whirlwind visit in May covered ten of Ningxia’s top wineries, from the country’s biggest producer to boutique operations, doing everything from Cabernet blends to first Marselan vintages to a focus on natural wine. Five photos for each winery, plus notes, from a tour with tasty grapes, great food and a guitar-playing winery owner.
Ningxia started getting attention about a half-dozen years ago. Here’s a piece I did for Wine Business International in 2015, right in the midst of that growth. Other posts in this list cover more recent changes.
When the wine world talks of Ningxia, likely names to pop up include Emma Gao at Silver Heights (银色高地), Zhang Jing at Helan Qing Xue (贺兰晴雪) and Wang “Crazy” Fang atKanaan (迦南美地). They ooze personality, are fluent in English, and make good wines. But there are others who have played critical roles and are little-known beyond non-Chinese language circles. Ranking high among them is winemaker Zhou Shuzhen (周淑珍).
A stunning Loire-esque winery that pairs Changyu, China’s oldest and biggest producer, and Austrian wine family Moser opened in August of 2013, complete with a museum, cellar, tasting room, retail area, water fountain, sprawling grounds and more. Here are 60 photos taken during visits over the past five years.
There is growing buzz that Marselan (马瑟兰), a cross of Cabernet and Grenache, is destined to become “China’s grape”. Here’s a quick look at the latest vintage of this grape in Ningxia. Also check out World Marselan Day.
This two-year Ningxia Winemakers Challenge involved 48 contestants from 17 nations. Each was paired in 2015 with a local winery, awarded three hectares of grapes in a lottery and given a mission to make something special for judging in 2017, with USD100,000 in prizes. (Results here.) They learned much about Ningxia. Check out these Q&A sessions for their takes on the region, its grapes, its wines and its potential.
- Mike Gadd, Australian
- Justin Corrans, South Africa
- Brian Cheeseborough, United States
- Maria Isabel Tapia,Chile
- Gianpaolo Paglia, Italy
- Nova Cadamatre, United States
- Chris Sargeant, Australia
Jancis Robinson visited Ningxia in 2012 and co-chaired a 10-judge panel with Ma Huiqin that tasted 39 wines (results here). She also got on the road to check out many of Ningxia’s wineries, with some of that info ending up in the World Atlas of Wine.
Ningxia Winemakers Challenge I
The first Ningxia Winemakers Challenge, from 2012 to 2014, involved contestants from seven nations. You can also get some insights into the wine situation in those years via these Q&A sessions with Ma Huiqin, a professor with extensive experience in the region, Zhang Jing of Helan Qing Xue, Emma Gao of Silver Heights, Craig Grafton, then with the Pernod Ricard operation Helan Mountain), and Lilian Carter, a previous winemaker with Helan Mountain.
Ningxia vs Bordeaux
A 2011 contest in Beijing pitted five Bordeaux wines with five made using Ningxia grapes. Each wine fell into a similar price range in China and the goal was to show consumers which one the experts—five French and five Chinese—scored highest. Check out the results here, responses to any ideas the contest was unfair here, and more about what the judges liked here.
See the Ningxia category on Grape Wall for even more posts, including about Lebron James trying Ningxia wine, the region’s roving wine-bottling unit and the summer it discovered disease really could be a problem. I’ll also put together some other reports about Ningxia and post those soon.