Ningxia lies approximately 1,330 kilometres west of Beijing. It is located in Central Western China on the fringes of the Gobi desert and feeds off the Yellow River that has its source in the clean and natural Tibetan Plateau.
With the aridness of the land and longer sunlight hours than normal during the growing season (around 3,000 – compare with Bordeaux’s 2,052 hours average), the berries are allowed to fully ripen, developing a full-flavoured fruit character. The grapes have ideal growing conditions in the Helan Mountains Region at 1,100 metres above sea level.
The desert with its hot daytime temperatures and cold nights helps the wines to retain their freshness.
The history of Chinese grape wine dates back more than 4,600 years. The earliest records are from the Han Dynasty around 206 B.C. Wine consumption was once common in Bronze Age China and vanished completely in ancient times. It was replaced by the consumption of a range of traditional Chinese alcoholic beverages made from sorghum, millet, rice and fruits such as lychee or Asian plum. The ancient Chinese became reacquainted with grape wine consumption during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE), yet grape wine consumption did not become common before the Tang Dynasty (608 - 907).
Modern Chinese wine dates back to the foundation of Changyu in 1892. Changyu is the first winery to produce wine on a grand scale, pioneering modernized wine production in China.
There are currently approximately 900 wineries in China (compare to Australia: 2,000 – USA: 7,100 – France: 27,000 – Austria: 6,500 – Germany: 6,500). Nearly 800,000 hectares are planted under vine, making China the sixth largest wine producing country in terms of acreage, roughly 13 million hectolitres of wine are produced per year,. Red wines account for 90%, with only 10% accounting for sweet wine and dry white wines.
China is the fastest growing wine market in the world. Per capita wine consumption is, however, still only slightly more than one litre.
The largest wine-producing region in China is Yantai-Penglai (BohaiBay Area, Shandong), with more than 140 wineries responsible for 40% of China's wine production. China’s youngest and most interesting wine-growing region, Ningxia, to date has 100 wineries with approved plans to increase to many more over the next few years.