By Jim Boyce | Four years ago this week, seven winemakers from five continents helped launch a two-year project called the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge (NWC) that would see them make wine, each using a similar set of equipment in a common facility, and ultimately compete for USD30,000 in prizes:
Fast forward three years and we saw a very different scene as the second NWC started last September. This time, 48 winemakers from 18 nations gathered in Ningxia where they partnered with local wineries, participated in a lottery to decide their grape plots, and then headed off to make wines that will be up for more than USD100,000 in prizes next year:
Those two photos are symbolic of the rapid growth of the Ningxia scene over the past four years, one that now has over 35,000 hectares of wine grapes and nearly 200 registered wineries, that is piling up awards at local and international competitions, and that attracts a steady stream of winemakers, viticulturalists, writers, sommeliers, academics, equipment sellers and any other number of people. Impressively, given the odds that a new job, family obligations or travel restrictions might come into play, all 48 winemakers are still involved one year on and most that I have talked to are relatively happy with the state of their wines.
I’m now working on a series of Ningxia posts. They’ll cover my visit a few weeks ago, and some of the more intriguing wines tasted, the gap Ningxia is facing between producing good wine and selling it, and some of the media coverage of the region over the past year. Look for those soon!
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