In September of 2012, seven winemakers gathered to participate in the inaugural Ningxia Wine Challenge. The call to join this groundbreaking project went out in mid-July of that year and just ten weeks later the winemakers—Benoit Beigner of France, José Hernández González of Spain, Penny Jones of Australia, Patricia Miranda of Chile / New Zealand, Eleni Papadakis of the United States, David Tyney of Australia and Carl van der Merwe of South Africa—were on hand in the regional capital of Yinchuan.
‘Challenge’ turned out to be a highly appropriate word for the project. The winemakers were not only tasked with producing a wine to be judge by a panel of experts but also faced the toughest vintage in recent memory. They were also part of a first-of-its-kind project that had its share of growing pains.
Any qualms the organizers had about the project were immediately quelled as the seven winemakers brought with them a sense of adventure, vast experience from working in other regions, and a keenness to make wine.