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China’s wines take center stage

By HONG XIAO at the United Nations | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-11-08 00:54
Guests tasting wines from Ningxia at the China Ningxia International Wine Festival in New York on Monday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Fine wine made in China made a debut at the United Nations and it’s aiming for a broad global market.

The China Ningxia International Wine Festival kicked off at UN headquarters in New York on Monday. Wines produced in the eastern foothills of the Helan Mountains in Ningxia Hui autonomous region in Northwest China have been put in the spotlight.

“As the world’s largest inter-governmental organization exclusive to sovereign nations, the United Nations is committed to promoting cooperation among countries in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, and world peace,” Cao Kailong, director of the Bureau of Grape Industry Development in Ningxia said at an evening reception.

“Being able to introduce and display Ningxia’s wine at UN headquarters is an important opportunity to further enhance the exchange and cooperation between Ningxia and the world. It is also an important opportunity to further enhance the influence of Ningxia’s wine brands and open up a broader global market,” he emphasized.

At the geographical center of China, the Ningxia Plain rests where the Yellow River and the Helan Mountains meet. It is known as “the Oasis in the hinterland”.

With a latitude similar to France’s Bordeaux region, the eastern foothills of the Helan Mountains are optimal for growing quality wine grapes.

“The plentiful water, the fertile soil, the abundant light and heat resources and the dry climate with little rainfall, provide a suitable environment for producing high quality grapes,” Cao explained.

At present, the Ningxia wine region has 86 chateaus and plants nearly 40,000 hectares of wine grapes, which can produce nearly 100,000 tons of wine grapes a year. With an annual output of 120 million bottles, the wine industry’s comprehensive output value exceeds $3 billion.

Thanks to industrial chain development, Ningxia’s wine industry has already provided 120,000 jobs for villagers from surrounding impoverished areas, according to local authorities.

“Ningxia has become China’s most promising wine producing area on a par with the world’s best wine producing areas,” said Cao.

During a visit to Ningxia in July 2016, President Xi Jinping said, “The wine grapes planted at the eastern foothills of the Helan Mountains are good in quality. Ningxia’s wines have great market potential. It is the right path to develop a comprehensive vine and wine industry and we should stick to it.”

Cao said the grape varieties being grown include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Gernischt and Marselan.

As the only chateau wine producing area in China, the wine produced in Ningxia has won more than 500 awards in various top-level international competitions.

Ningxia’s multiple wines have been designated by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be served to heads of states. Among them, Ningxia Xixia King Wine has been dubbed the wine of diplomacy.

After tasting wine from the region, British wine critic Jancis Robinson said: “There is no doubt that the future of Chinese wine lies here.”

“Ningxia’s wine has reached the international first-rate level. It is amazing,” said Regina Vanderlinde, chairman of the International Organization of Vine and Wine in Paris.

“Ningxia is opening its arms to greet friends from all over the world to taste good wines in China,” Cao said.

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