Plenty of people in the wine trade know about the up-and-coming wine region of Ningxia but some only vaguely know the location of this remote spot and its wineries, with “vaguely” defined as “somewhere in China”. Here is a look at the region via five maps.
Perhaps Ningxia is best described as being in north-central China although the region is often described as part of the “northwest” swath that extends through Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang and that has seen a rapid increase in wineries and vineyard coverage over the past decade.
Ningxia is 66,000 square kilometers, which makes it roughly the size of Ireland, and is roughly 800 kilometers west of Beijing. Its immediate neighbors are Gansu, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia, all of which also make grape wine.
As anyone who has flown across China knows, Ningxia is in an arid swath of the country. In the map above, you can see its capital city Yinchuan (the red pin) set in an oasis of green amid a range of browns and yellows.
Yinchuan is between the Helan Mountain range, which moderates the climate, and the Yellow River, an important source of irrigation water. The city has about two million inhabitants and has also seen rapid growth in recent years.
Not surprisingly, many vineyards are found between the mountains and river, including the eight on this map. They include family-owned Silver Heights, joint trade association-private investment project Helan Qing Xue, veteran Xi Xia King, large national producers Changyu and COFCO (which operates Chateau Yunmo) and foreign-invested projects Helan Mountain (Pernod Ricard), Chandon (Moet Hennessy) and Daylong.
Ningxia is unique in China for having so many wineries with different models, that for the most part make decent wine and that are in close proximity to each other, thus raising the prospects for tourism in the region.
Note: The first pair of maps are from Wikipedia, the second pair from Google Earth. The last map is from wine consultant Li Demei.