News / Asia

Chinese Work to Improve Domestic Wine Industry

Chinese Work to Improve Domestic Wine Industryi
|| 0:00:00
X
Stephanie Ho
August 23, 2012 1:26 PM
While Chinese wine connoisseurs spend lavishly at auctions for rare and esteemed foreign wines, inside China there are many working to improve the international reputation of the domestic wine industry. Stephanie Ho recently visited a vineyard in Ningxia, an arid desert like region that the local government believes has China's best conditions for growing wine grapes.
Stephanie Ho
YINCHUAN, China — While Chinese wine connoisseurs spend lavishly at auctions for rare and esteemed foreign wines, inside China there are many working to improve the international reputation of the domestic wine industry.  The desert-like region of Ningxia enjoys the best conditions in China for growing wine grapes, according to the local government.

This area around the Helan Mountains is a key part of Ningxia's government’s five-year plan to make this an official wine-growing region.

The area is home to a host of wineries, such as Jiabeilan and Domaine Helan Mountain.  One of the smaller wineries is Silver Heights, which was started in 2007.

Winemaker Emma Gao grew up in the area, but is one of the few Chinese to hold a French national certification for winemaking.

"When I was growing up in the 1980s, the wine we drank was sweet, which is how we thought all wine was.  We would even add some other beverages to it, so that it would be more palatable. If it was like a proper red wine, very tannic, we would not like it very much," said Gao.

Changing tastes

Gao says times are changing, though, and more Chinese people are developing a taste for Western food and wine.

"There is already a huge potential market of 1.3 billion customers.  Even if just one percent of the population drinks a glass of wine a day, the result you get from this is pretty clear," she said.

Wines from Ningxia, including one from Silver Heights, caused a small stir last December when they beat similarly-priced wines from Bordeaux in an informal blind-taste test in Beijing.  One of the contest's organizers, Jim Boyce, runs a Chinese wine blog called grapewallofchina.com.

"The reality was five French and five Chinese professionals picked Ningxia, the top four wines of the 10 were from Ningxia.  Does that mean Ningxia is better than Bordeaux?  No, of course not," he said. "The best Bordeaux wine is still better - but it does mean there is a capability here to make wine that can compete at a certain level."

Father's pressure

Silver Heights is largely the realization of a dream - cherished by 70-year-old wine lover Gao Lin, who funded his daughter's wine education in France.

"I told her if you study wine-making, the goal is very clear - we can have some fields here and we can cultivate grapes," she said. "Afterwards, you can come back and work here.  So, I can give you money to pay for your education.  If you study other subjects, then I will not provide any financial assistance.  You will have to support yourself."

Emma Gao acknowledges her father's strong influence in her choice of careers, but says she also had an epiphany moment - when she began to love wine too.

"I was tasting 13 or 14 different kinds of chardonnay," she said. "It was all excellent and I tasted a blooming spring flower, different kinds of fruits, a nutty taste, all of these tastes were delightful.  Afterwards, I did a lot of other tastings, in places like Burgundy, the Loire Valley - every area has its unique wines and tastes."

Gao says Ningxia wines also have distinctive characteristics.  Her winery produces only red wines, which judges have described as spicy, and reminiscent of roses, tomatoes and black fruits.

You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid