If you’ve followed the Xtrawine blog for a while, you’ve likely read our articles about the continued growth of the Chinese wine industry.
In recent years, there’s been a huge growth in interest for international wines from China, with reds being especially popular because of their association with good luck in Chinese culture. Many countries have courted the Chinese to make their wines prominent in the country, with France and the United States being among the most prominent. Admittedly, Italy took a little bit longer to promote Italian wine interests in the country. But year-on-year, we’re seeing growth in the volume of Italian wine exported to China.
Of course, there’s a natural progression taking place here.
The love of international wines in China naturally leads to some in the country taking an interest in producing wines domestically. As a result, we’re starting to see some Chinese vintages enter the wider industry, which is very exciting. Perhaps sometime in the near future we will see China emerge as one of the world’s foremost producers.
For now, though, there’s one wine that stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to what China’s producing.
That is the Ningxia wine.
In this article, we take a closer look at the wine itself and some of the factors that will affect production of Chinese wines in the future.
The Success of the Ningxia Wine
Many people who are in the know point to Ningxia as the region that holds the key for the success of Chinese wines in the future. If you want an Italian comparison, you could perhaps compare Ningxia to Tuscany or Piedmont. It’s simply the region of the country where China’s best wines currently come from.
How good are these wines?
Just take a look at the recently created 22 Gold. That wine won the Berline Wein Trophy on 9th March. And all told, the region as a whole has received over 700 awards from international bodies for the wines that it produces.
The key to this is the terroir found in Ningxia.
The region sees fairly low levels of rainfall, which is ideal for certain types of grape. The land also offers long-term duration, which makes it one of the best places in China for growing grapes. The presence of the Helan Mountains is also an important factor, as this provides hilly regions for producers to take advantage of, as well as land that offers unique mineral qualities for the wines produced in Ningxia.
Right now, the region houses over 38,000 hectares of vineyards, which can produce an astonishing 120 million bottles of wine per year. You could even go so far as to say that Ningxia is the heart of the Chinese wine industry. Without it, the country may not even have a wine industry to speak of! It’s certainly the largest region of the country in terms of wine output.
Naturally, that also means it’s attracted a lot of interest from the industry and investors alike. In fact, it’s investment into the region that has allowed for the construction of 92 wineries by the beginning of 2020.
And that’s just the start of what’s to come.
Over the next few years, we will see at least another 119 wineries spring up in Ningxia, all of which are dedicated to getting the most out of the region’s unique terroir. This will also create an interesting situation for wine lovers, as we’re sure to see some companies pull ahead of others in terms of price, quality, and prestige.
Today, Ningxia provides wines both to the domestic market and to 20 other countries. These include Italy, Australia, and France.
It’s exciting stuff as we’re literally seeing the creation of a new wine powerhouse in front of our eyes. By the end of this century, we seriously anticipate Ningxia as being the region that will make China one of the most important countries in the global wine industry.
But there are a few factors that need to be in place to ensure this happens. While Ningxia has undergone amazing development over the last few years, its growth is contingent on all of the following:
Partnerships With Other Countries
The many countries that supply their wines to China are also an invaluable source of expertise for China’s growing collection of winemakers. Remember that it was only a couple of decades ago that China had no wine industry of its own to speak of. What we’re seeing in Ningxia, and other selected regions, is the birth of an industry in front of our very eyes.
And it’s a birth that Italy, France, and many others actively encourage.
In the coming years, we expect to see more experts make their way to China to help develop this growing industry. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see this new wave of producers strike up partnerships with other producers to distribute their wines overseas.
Chinese Wine Consumption
The fact is that China would not have a wine industry were it not for the trend within the country of people buying international wines. This showed that there was a clear demand, which gave domestic producers the confidence that they needed to start their own wineries.
This trend needs to continue for the Chinese wine industry to continue its growth.
If, for whatever reason, interest in wine in China trails off, we can likely expect to see something similar in its own production. That’s not a situation that we believe will happen though. Year-on-year, we see increased sales of wine in the country, to the point where we can say that it’s almost part of the culture.
The Final Word
What we’re seeing in Ningxia is an exciting sign of what’s to come for the global wine industry. China is fast emerging as a powerhouse that will soon be able to produce wine with the best of them.
But it also means the growth of an enormous market that represents massive opportunities.
I’m a passionate about good wine and good cooking.
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