Uncorking potential

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A wine cellar in Ningxia. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Ningxia Winemakers Challenge also offered contestants experience, especially those from emerging winemaking regions.

"Like China, India is a small winemaking country," Indian winemaker Priyanka Kulkarni says.

"It's very interesting for me to see what kind of challenges China is facing."

The region's unique climate, sandy soil and dry air are ideal for growing quality grapes.

But such conditions as cold winters and high elevations require vines to be buried to protect them against harsh winters.

"In spite of such extreme weather conditions, people are really dedicated to making good wines," she says.

Priyanka is also inspired by the local winemakers, who are eager to learn new skills from others while maintaining high standards.

Ningxia has developed its winemaking since the late 1990s.

There were 35,000 hectares of wine grapes in the region by the end of 2015. Ningxia is planning to establish a 67,000-hectare vineyard and over 100 quality wineries by 2020.

German wine expert Joerg Philipp, who served as a judge in the contest, believes the region has potential.

He visited 64 Ningxia wineries last year and found the wines to be unique due to variations in soil, climate and terrain.

Philipp says wines from the north are more structured. Those from the south are fresher and more complex.

He suggests Ningxia should produce special and regional products, and find its own style and identity.

"The most important thing is to say it tastes like Ningxia," he says.

"There's no region around the world doing something similar to Ningxia."

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