Silver Heights, China’s foremost terroir-driven winery in northwestern Ningxia, is now leading in the country’s quality wine exports with over 60% of Ningxia’s entire wine export value coming from this family-owned winery.
The data was revealed by Ningxia Wine Bureau and confirmed by the winery.
The news came on the back of the country’s ambitious 15-year plan to turn the northwestern wine region sitting on the edge of Gobi Desert into the country’s best chance to produce world-class wines to rival international brands.
According to Ningxia Wine Bureau, Silver Heights is now exported to 13 different markets in Europe, Americas and Asia Pacific Region.
Despite the pandemic, the winery exported RMB 1.64 million (US$254,000) worth of wines in 2020, which accounts for 61.88% of Ningxia’s total export value (RMB 2.65 million), making it the biggest wine exporter among all wineries in Ningxia.
The winery exports about 25% of its wines overseas but going forward the winery hopes more wine lovers outside of China will develop a taste for its wines.
“In the next three years, we expect the percentage to grow to 40% . And it is both a responsibility and a pride for Silver Heights to let the people around the world discover a beautiful new wine region as Ningxia and its quality wines,” says the winery’s CEO Marco Milani.
Silver Heights’ bullish performance in the export market echoes a slow but steady improvement of Chinese wines where a new generation of winemakers like Emma Gao are working to revamp the country’s image with terroir-driven wines that reflect Ningxia’s unique winegrowing conditions.
The strong performance also lends a fitting narrative for Ningxia government as it outlines a 15-year plan to develop the wine region into an international wine producing powerhouse that could rival Bordeaux.
The region is home to over 100 wineries, with 100 more under construction, and produces around 130 million bottles a year for an industry valued at RMB 26.1 billion (US$4 billion).
Founded in 2007 by father and daughter team, Lin Gao and Bordeaux-trained Emma Gao, Silver Heights is recognized as the country’s first generation of quality-driven wine producers making well-crafted wines, using mostly Bordeaux blends.
The Yinchuan-based winery makes up to 200,000 bottles a year from entry level Last Warrior, its flagship The Summit to haute premium Emma’s Reserve.
Since 2017, the winery is also leading the charge to convert its entire viticulture and production to biodynamic farming, without any additions of chemicals. It has since launched Jiayuan collection, featuring three single varietal cuvees, and an unconventional sparkling wine made with Riesling and rice.
The drive as the winery says is to create a healthier and harmonious ecosystem that promotes soil health, biodiversity and sustainability.
“The land at the foothills of Helan Mountain is a sacred land, and we don’t want to see this generation of winegrowers exploit it to break this virgin land’s balance,” Emma previously explained on the intention of the conversion.
Having being certified organic in China and by EU, the winery is in the process of obtaining Demeter biodynamic certification.
The Sun-trapped wine region enjoys continental climate with annual rainfalls less than 200ml, which makes it favorable for organic farming without much disease pressure.
Other wineries in Ningxia including Chateau Changyu–Moser XV in Ningxia and Domaine des Arômes are also practicing biodynamic farming.