China's northwest region of Xinjiang is the country's major wine producer. Grape harvesting is now in full swing. The government has been encouraging investment in the wine industry to strengthen local brands and build the industry. Feng Yilei has more.
The harvest of grapes in Xinjiang starts in August. But the varieties used to make wine mature relatively later. For farmers in Shihezi, on the northern slope of Tianshan mountain, their sweat from reaping the sweet grapes has been rewarded.
BAI XURONG Farmer "We used to plant cotton, but the earnings weren't so good. Growing grapes is easier and more profitable. Now we have our house, and good living conditions. "
ZHANG BANGGUI Farmer "This year's grape harvest is better than usual. The quality has gone up these years, as well as the price. So we can earn more a year – from seventy thousand yuan, to more than a hundred thousand yuan now. "
Out of China's ten provinces and regions that produce wine, Xinjiang is by far one of the largest in terms of total production. As of 2020, its grape-planting area accounted for more than a quarter of country's total.
FENG YILEI Urumqi "Xinjiang's unique climate and light rainfall make it ideal for growing grapes. Wine grapes are no exception! Even before becoming wine, these berries are tasty delights on their own."
It's not just Xinjiang's favorable growing conditions that make its grapes outstanding. More firms, scientific research institutes and government agencies are contributing to advanced planting technologies.
LI XIN Technical Director, Chateau Changyu Baron Balboa "We cooperate with Shihezi University and Xinjiang Agricultural University. For example, we're using technology to extend the growth of the grapes – that is, to delay the harvest, so that tannins in grapes ripen better, and thus gives wine a perfect taste."
With better produce, wines made in Xinjiang have a loyal domestic following, and have received recognition at international competitions. With China's wine imports shrinking due to pandemic-induced bottlenecks in shipping and trade uncertainty, local wines now have a better chance.
SUN FEIFEI Director, Agricultural Development Center of Shihezi 152 Regiment "Authorities are likely to introduce corresponding policies to encourage people to gradually improve the quality and expand the planting area, because the domestic demand is increasing, and the income of the people is growing. "
Xinjiang aims to double the area planted to grapes for wine to over six hundred square kilometers, and quadruple its wine output to 700-thousand kilo-liters by 2025. Grape farmers and wine manufactures here are confident that their products will soon find a well-lit place on crowded shelves abroad. Feng Yilei, CGTN, Shihezi, Xinjiang.