Countries raising a glass to top crop

By CHEN HONG|China Daily Global|Updated: October 28, 2020


Ningxia wines are popular with customers at China and abroad. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The fast-growing wine trade at the east foothill of Helan Mountains in Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region has become increasingly attractive to sommeliers and investors.

Tommy Lam, president of the Asia Sommelier Guild, has been actively promoting the chateau wines of Ningxia in Hong Kong.

"Ningxia was unknown to many people when I visited it eight years ago, but now it seems everybody in the world knows the region and its wine," Lam said.

Dubbed as a "purple calling card", the wine produced at the east foothill of Helan Mountain is now sought after in many restaurants in Hong Kong.

More than 20 wineries in the region supply wine to Hong Kong but it could barely satisfy the market demands, Lam said.

Hong Kong could also serve as a spring board to exporting the wine to foreign countries and regions, which Lam said he is working hard on.

Joe Sriwarin, president of a sommelier association in Bangkok, Thailand, said Chinese wine can be on a parallel with most wellknown wines from around the world.

He sent his greetings to the opening of the Ninth Ningxia International Wine Expo at Helan Mountain's Eastern Foot, which was held from Oct 22 to 23.

He said he had been to Ningxia twice for the past few years. "I would love to visit Ningxia again. I would love to taste all the wines from Ningxia," Sriwarin said.

Soren Polonius, founder of the Swedish National Sommelier Competition Team, sent his greetings from Stockholm. He said he did his first tastings of the wines of Ningxia in the Champagne region of France not long ago. "I felt the potential and something really new. I knew that we need to keep our eyes on this detail here," he said.

So far, wines from Ningxia have exported to more than 20 countries and regions, including France, Germany, US and Australia. Meanwhile, domestic sales also keep rising as China has been the fifth largest wine consumer in the world.

Online retail sales of the wines of Ningxia increased by 22 percent year-on-year to nearly 290 million yuan ($42.2 million) in the first nine months of 2020, official figures indicate.

While the wine region of Ningxia is earning a name for itself in the international market, domestic investment is also booming.

During the international wine expo, the local governments and wineries in Ningxia signed a total of 68 investment agreements and wine sale contracts with domestic investors and wine distributors. The contractual amount reached more than 15.5 billion yuan.

Pei Yuanhu, president of an investment group based in Shanghai, said his company will build an industrial park that will integrate the business of healthcare, wine and tourism in Ningxia, Shanghai and Japan. The industrial park in Ningxia will focus on vineyard plantation, wine talents and tourism, while the park in Shanghai will emphasize wine transaction and the park in Japan will concentrate on wine culture research, he said in a speech during the expo.