Friday, December 20, 2013

Second Visit to Ningxia Wine Region of China

(Dec. 9, 2013) Though the weather temperature averaged 32 degrees Fahrenheit (F) during the day with lows around 8F at night, my most recent trip to Yinchuan was filled with warm hospitality and many positive experiences. Yinchuan is the capital city of the Ningxia wine region, and a two hour flight West of Beijing. The local government had decided to host a 5-day wine tourism conference and invited me and two other colleagues, Larry from Australia and Damien from France, to speak.

I flew from San Francisco to Beijing, and was met at the airport by my good friend, Qin, who helped to organize the conference. Despite the fact that we raced through the Beijing airport clocking over a mile on my pedometer, we still missed the last evening flight to Yinchuan and had to stay overnight in Beijing. However, we were able to catch the first flight out the next morning and were in Yinchuan by 11am.

The last time I visited the Ningxia wine region was August of 2012, when the daily temperatures on the low 90’s, so to arrive in the dead of winter was quite different. Despite the cold, we had sunny blue skies all week, but there was no snow on the Helan Mountain range as I had hoped.

I was impressed with the progress that had been made in the city of Yinchuan since my previous visit. Now there were even more new buildings, grand boulevards lined with trees, and bustling modern shopping centers. Furthermore, everywhere I looked, building cranes dotted the sky as new structures were going up, proving that Yinchuan is one of China’s boom towns.

Enjoying the 5-Star Kempenski Yinchuan Hotel

This time the local government booked us into the Kempenski Yinchuan hotel, which was quite opulent and modern. It was decorated for the holidays with many lighted Christmas trees and soft Christmas music playing throughout the hotel. The service was exquisite, with an obviously well-trained staff that seemed happy to see me each day and eager to help with any request.

My room was large and beautifully decorated, with a welcome bowl of fruit consisting of apples, bananas and dragon fruit. The warm robe, slippers and comfortable bed made it a very cozy visit. Breakfast each morning with the huge buffet was a treat, with so many different types of food available. My colleagues and I also enjoyed the bar, and were very happy to find they had local Ningxia wine available by the glass. Two nights in a row we ordered the Silver Heights cabernet sauvignon, and it was excellent.

Number of Wineries and Vineyards Grow in the Ningxia Wine Region

The next day at the conference, our hosts showed us a large map of the Ningxia wine region, and I was amazed to see that in the year and a half since I visited, they had grown from 38 wineries to 100. In addition, they had planted more vineyards and now have around 57,500 acres planted to vines. NOTE: See other posts for more details on wineries and vineyards.

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