Applications opened at noon today for the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge, a project that will fund up to 60 foreign winemakers to visit Ningxia, practice their craft and compete for cash prizes up to RMB840,000 (EUR120,000 / USD135,000).
Co-organized by the International Federation of Vine and Wine of Helan Mountain’s East Foothill, with support from the region’s Grape Industry Development Bureau, the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge expands on a 2012 project that involved seven winemakers from Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and The United States. A panel of experts awarded those wines RMB190,000 in Beijing last August, with David Tyney of Australia taking top spot.
“This Ningxia Winemakers Challenge will be much bigger than the one in 2012,” says Li Xueming, director of the bureau. “This time the region will fund up to 60 winemakers to visit Ningxia, nearly ten times as many as in 2012. This growth in the project mirrors the fast development of the Ningxia wine industry over the past three years.”
The application period for the NWC is from June 22 to July 17. (See this link for the application form.) As in 2012, a panel of experts with China wine trade experience will help determine the successful applicants. In 2012, they included Mihalis Boutaris of Greece, Lilian Carter of Australia, Li Demei of China, Liz Thach of The United States and Mireia Torres of Spain.
Up to sixty successful applicants will travel to Ningxia for the launch of the project on September 20. They will stay for a minimum of 15 days to select grapes, oversee fermentation, and learn more about the region’s wine industry and culture. The organizers will fund the cost of meals and transportation as well as accommodation in Yinchuan, the regional capital.
The wines made during the NWC will be evaluated by a panel of experts in 2017. Those that score in the top 10 percent will each be awarded a gold medal and RMB100,000 in cash, while those in the next 20 percent will each receive a silver medal and RMB20,000. The organizers plan to give each winemaker several thousand bottles of the wine he or she makes.