Ningxia news | Cao Kailong appointed wine bureau director

By Jim Boyce | Cao Kailong is the new director of the Bureau of Grape Industry Development in Ningxia, replacing the retiring Li Xueming. Given Cao was the bureau’s deputy director, the promotion suggests the Ningxia wine industry’s present course will continue.

Cao set up the bureau, originally called the Bureau of Grape and Floriculture Industry, in 2012 to help boost Ningxia’s promising wine industry. He’s been involved in a dizzying number of projects. These range from the region’s OIV observer membership to trade fairs, wine festivals and fact-finding missions to establishing a nursery with imported plant material to a pair of two-year projects called Ningxia Winemakers Challenge, the most recent of which pairs 48 foreign winemakers with local operations in a contest with over USD100,000 in prizes. (Disclosure: I helped find winemakers for this contest.)

The Ningxia wine region has quickly grown over the past decade. According to government reports, it had 184 registered wine operations and 35,000 hectares of wine grapes as of mid-2016. The region has a reasonably good climate for growing grapes, though cold winters require covering the vines. It has also been able to offer large tracts of land in contrast to regions where wineries source fruit from small farmers with few incentives to produce quality. In recent years, Ningxia has caught the eye of the world wine community. Winemakers, viticulturalists, investors, equipment sellers, writers and academics have all poured in for a firsthand look. These two photos underscore the rapid growth of the region.

Cao Kailong at the Ningxia wine festival
Cao Kailong, shown here accepting a glass at last year’s harvest festival, is the new director of the Ningxia wine bureau.

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