Collection: Ningxia 宁夏

Ningxia is emerging as a star region for China’s modern wine industry and wine is the key economic driver for the area. This expanse of land in north-western China borders the Gobi desert. A cold arid and semi-arid climate offers plenty of warmth, light and low rainfall, but also extremely low temperatures in the winter. High-quality winemaking conditions are made possible by the Helan Mountains, which shield the foothills from cold winds, and a well-irrigated valley thanks to the Yellow River. The soil is stony and well drained.

  • Most wineries are built around the eastern foothills of the Helan Mountain range, including large stakeholders such as Pernod Ricard (Helan Mountain), Château Changyu (Moser XV) and Moët Hennessy (Chandon China), as well as boutiques such as Silver Heights and Kanaan Winery. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the most planted varieties here, along with Cabernet Gernischt, Syrah, Marselan, Chardonnay and Riesling. There are great conditions – the dry climate means low threat of fungus or rot – as well as challenges for viticulture. The high temperature contrast between day and night leads to balanced ripeness and acidity in the grapes, and the well-drained and stony soil encourages the vine to preserve nutrients for growing the grapes, leading to smaller yields of more flavoursome berries.

  • On the negative side, the winter is long and harsh and vines need to be buried in order to survive. Slower ripening Cabernet Sauvignon may not be the most suitable variety for this region, as the summer is relatively short, although rather successful Bordeaux blends are produced here, typically lighter and less concentrated in style with softer tannins and a herbaceous character. The Ningxia government is very supportive of the wine industry because it helps alleviate regional poverty, and vine planting reduces land desertification. Wines from this area have won prestigious international awards, and attracted investments and tourism to the province.

    Excerpt from The Chinese Wine Renaissance: A Wine Lover’s Companion.