China’s premier wine region, Ningxia, has set out clear goals to significantly expand its production capacity by 2025 to rival other international wine regions and boost its domestic wine consumption.
The northwestern wine region has now carved out a pilot zone, which centers Helan Mountain Eastern Foothills to cover over 500 km² of land in Ningxia. This is only the second national pilot zone approved by China’s State Council and the first in western China.
At a press conference jointly held by Ningxia Government, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in Beijing, the country aims to expand Ningxia’s annual wine production volume to 300 million bottles and its production value to RMB 100 billion (US$15.57 billion) by 2025, almost four times of its current industry size at US$4 billion.
In four years’ time, “Chinese wine’s domestic market share and exports should be further increased”, according to a detailed blueprint released by the three government departments.
At the moment, Ningxia has 211 wineries (110 under construction) and produces around 130 million bottles a year for an industry valued at RMB 26.1 billion (US$4 billion).
By 2035, the country also plans to triple its current vineyard area from 490,000 mu (32,666 ha) to 1.5 million mu (100,000 ha), and further increase its production value to more than RMB 200 billion (US$31.3 billion), nearly eight times of its current industry size.
Annual production by then should reach 600 million bottles, double that of 2025.
The news was announced at a time when China is bent on reviving its domestic wine industry to increase Chinese wine’s quality and consumption amid fierce competition from imported wines.
For years Chinese wines had dominated domestic wine market but as the country’s middle class warms up to imported wines, domestic wines have been losing out to French and Australian brands.
Earlier the country’s official drinks trade CADA warned that imported wines market share has already surpassed domestic wine in terms of volume, prompting it to launch a campaign to encourage Chinese consumers to drink Chinese wine.
The pilot zone was also launched after Chinese president Xi Jinping twice visited Ningxia in the past five years, first in 2016 and another in 2020.
The region’s first modern wine growing started roughly three decades ago, and at the beginning vine planting was largely seen as a way to combat desertification for a region that sits on Gobi Desert.
In 2016, Xi affirmed Ningxia’s wine industry in a speech to encourage local wineries. Last year, he visited the province again and urged integration of viticulture with environmental protection and cultural aspirations to improve Ningxia’s wine brand and its overall industry value.
China ranks as the world’s 6th biggest wine consumer. Its wine consumption slipped by 17.4% last year, according to OIV but with the country’s growing Middle Class, it’s still projected to become the second biggest wine consumer within the next few years.