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New work model drives wineries to sweet success

China Daily by YANG YANG23/10/2023  

Visitors tour a winery located in Danfeng county, Shaanxi province, on Sept 8. WANG JING

Danfeng county in Shangluo city, Shaanxi province, is located at a latitude of 33 degrees north. Grapes introduced more than 1,300 years ago enjoy an average of 2,056 hours of sunshine each year.

Because of the unique conditions in terms of the geology, water and climate in the Danjiang River Valley, the area nurtures wine grapes that are rich in pulp, high in sugar content and full of juice. They also taste delicious.

Shangluo resident Zhang Peiyu said she didn't get to taste any of Danfeng's grapes this year because "you have to go to the market before 7 am to buy them" during the season, but she always woke too late.

As early as 1911, Italian missionaries discovered that Danfeng's grapes had a rich, sweet flavor. They introduced European winemaking techniques to the county, leading to the establishment of a grape wine production company that still operates today. The winery is one of only two 100-year-old wine producing centers in China.

In the 1980s, Danfeng wine became popular nationwide and was also exported to more than 10 countries, including Japan and France.

However, in the 1990s, like many State-owned enterprises at the time, it faced layoffs and then went bankrupt. Having closed down, it was reopened at the end of 2007.

A range of wines produced at the winery in Danfeng is displayed to the public. WANG JING

In recent years, Danfeng has regarded wine as its most important industry. It has developed a new model that integrates grape cultivation, tourism and picking with production, storage, sales and the wine culture experience.

The county has also established a high-quality grape planting base that covers about 2,333 hectares and has an annual storage capacity of 30,000 metric tons, according to Guo Angui, Danfeng's Party head.

It has registered 53 trademarks, developed nine fruit wine companies, four cork stopper companies, and 80 stores and e-commerce outlets. The comprehensive output value exceeds 1 billion yuan ($137 million), benefiting more than 2,100 households. More than 3,600 people are employed in grape cultivation, wine production and related work.

Wanwan, a village in Danfeng's Dihua town, is located in the core production area for wine grapes in the Danjiang River Valley.

The local farmers used to grow crops, but in recent years they have rented their land to wineries or grown wine grapes themselves, which has boosted their incomes.

For example, in Dihua's Liangling community, 30 households manage 13.3 hectares of grapes under the guidance of experts from Northwest A&F University. As a result, they earn an extra 150,000 yuan a year.