By Jim Boyce
While quite a few people have heard about the up-and-coming wine region of Ningxia, some only vaguely know the location of this isolated place and its wineries, with “vaguely” including “somewhere in China”. Here is a look at the region via five maps.
Perhaps Ningxia is best described as being in north-central China. The region is usually considered as part of the “northwest” swath that is seeing an increase in wine-making, though it is toward the eastern fringe.
Ningxia is 66,000 square kilometers, which makes it roughly the size of Ireland or West Virginia, and is roughly 800 kilometers west of Beijing. Its immediate neighbors are Gansu, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia, all of which also make grape wine.
Ningxia is in an arid swath of China. You can see its capital city Yinchuan (the “A” pin) in an oasis of green.
Yinchuan is between the Helan Mountain range, that moderates the climate and improves agricultural conditions, and the Yellow River, an important source of water for irrigation.
Not surprisingly, vineyards are also found between the mountains and river, including the eight on this map. They include joint industry association-private investment project Helan Qing Xue, family-owned Silver Heights, large national producer Changyu, veteran Xi Xia King and Pernod Ricard-invested Helan Mountain as well as newcomers COFCO (makers of Great Wall), Delong / Daylong (investment from Daysun) and Chandon (investment from Moet-Hennessy). There are more than 30 wine operations in Ningxia and plans to add many others, so expect this map to get increasingly detailed.
Note: The first pair of maps are from Wikipedia, the second pair from Google Earth. The last map is from wine maker and professor Li Demei and is a rough draft that shows the general location of the wineries. I will post a more detailed map when possible.