‘Hometown of Stars’: China Wine TV Drama Launches Tonight

A 25-episode TV drama about the rise of Ningxia’s wine industry is set to start at 8 PM tonight on CCTV-1.

The plots include a rising cellist who returns home and shifts from plucking strings to picking grapes after her father, aspiring to create world-class wine in Ningxia, suffers a car accident.

This leads to her own aspirations and struggles as she carries forth. And leads to broader themes such as the contributions of an earlier generation that quite literally put down the roots for the current wine industry.

Per China Daily: “The drama focuses on the story of three generations in western China who were determined to change the fate of their hometown and ‘turn the desert into an oasis.’ It vividly portrays the pursuit of ideals among young Chinese people who respond to the nation’s call, embodying the theme of responding to the development of the times through their actions.”

Also per China Daily, the drama includes everything from grape cultivation to wine-making – plus scenic shots of the region – and is the first Ningxia-produced TV series to air on CCTV, with backing by the publicity department of Ningxia’s Communist Party of China branch and tge China Radio and Television Ningxia Network, among others.

Those who follow Ningxia’s wine scene – or Chinese TV dramas — might be reminded of the series from early 2021 titled Minning Town, created by independent studio Daylight Entertainment.

As I wrote back then: “A new Chinese TV drama about poverty alleviation also symbolizes the dreams and hopes of those in Ningxia’s wine trade, the dream of creating something from nothing, the hope of taking a land long written off and making that earth worth writing about.”

“The series Minning Town 闽宁镇, renamed Mountain Sea Love 山海情, is rooted in a story of land reclamation and poverty alleviation in the 1990s south of regional capital Yinchuan. And described as having a ‘socialist-realistic style’”, with strong storylines, notes of wit and dark humor, and a finish that pulls on the heartstrings. The latter is not surprising given how many people have risen out of poverty over the last few decades and can relate to this 23-episode series.

“The story is relevant for the wine trade given some of Ningxia’s key vineyards date to the late 1990s, a time when the Minning project was underway. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the area in 1997 as a Fujian official and head of a poverty alleviation delegation.

“The name Minning reflects those efforts, a blend of Min, another word for Fujian province, which is set against the sea, and the Ning in Ningxia, known for its Helan Mountain range.

“Minning and surrounding area are home today to some of Ningxia’s best wineries and vineyards, an area that through intense effort has gone, as the TV drama presents, from ‘dry sand beach’ to ‘golden sand beach.’ And no doubt the wine trade hopes that gold will gleam brighter and brighter.”

No doubt that same hope holds true with this new drama.

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