China’s premium wine region Ningxia will likely see a drop of 5% in wine production compared with last year due to heavy rainfalls in September, says Li Demei, China’s leading wine expert.
In a phone interview with dbHK, Li said floods earlier this year along Helan Mountain affected a few wineries but the damages were not severe. However, rainfalls in September caused a series of diseases including mildew, “the main reason for the production decline,” Li explained, adding that a “5% decline is still within normal range”.
As reported by dbHK earlier, wine production in China in 2016 is forecast to drop with Xinjiang in northwestern China reporting as much as a 30% cut.
In recent years, Ningxia has made inroads in global wine market, after local wineries such as Silver Heights and Helan Qing Xue won international wine awards. The local government is hoping to push the region’s vineyard acreage to 700,000 mu (about 46,667 hectares) by 2020, which will bring its annual wine production to 200 million bottles. Ningxia’s current acreage is 610,000 mu (40,666 hectares).
Li, however, remained cautious, stressed planting should be based on market demand and production capacity.
“It’s not going to be that fast. I think it’s only the government’s suggestion. In reality, the region’s planting should be based on market demand and the region’s wineries’ own production capacity,” Li said, noting demand for Ningxia wines has been growing.
Last year, Li noted, some local farmers were replanting vines with other crops for better profits as market demand for wines in general has suffered since 2012, but the up-rroting of vines in Ningxia was relatively rare this year, he continued, adding that wineries in the region are becoming less dependent on grape growers, which means small scale replanting won’t affect final production.
“For years in Ningxia, the model for winemaking was winemakers buying grapes from local farmers, but more often now, we see more wineries growing grapes themselves to make wines for quality control. So the model has changed. Even if some local farmers are cutting down vines for other crops, this won’t affect production of wines,” explained Li.