The world’s second biggest area is devoted to vineyards, and China has been trying to produce wine to enter the international market for numerous years. They are up against the very popular wine countries like France and Australia, especially the vineyards in the Yarra Valley down in Melbourne that offer romantic getaways to tourists. China is still yet to accomplish entering the international market, however, it can now flaunt that it holds the title for having the only high-altitude winery in the world. The winery is 2,300 metres above sea level and is located in Danba.
During the tour of the winery, one of the employees was explaining how the cellar that they store the wine in to age before it is bottled originally was a cave and they started to use it to make wine in 2007. The contrast between modern fermentation facilities and the rustic cellar where the wine is aged at least two years in Danba before being bottled, definitely adds to its appeal. The young employee taking us on the tour spoke about how the cave was previously used as a meditation place of a “living Buddha”.
Zhang Jin, who is the winery engineer, offers a prosaic perspective. He underlines the stable temperature and humidity of the cellar to be between 13-15 degrees Celsius and between 70-75 per cent. These conditions lead to a more balanced taste of the wine. The wine is sold under the name Kangding Hong. It is between $15 and $260 USD. Vine seedlings are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties which are imported from Spain and France. These will later be refined in their own vineyards or in local farm plantations. Zhang speaks about how their aim is to create employment for country inhabitants who are mostly dependent on farming, mining, and agriculture for their livelihoods.
Ma Yung, who is the manager of the winery, talks about how they employ roughly 150 people and around 3,960 families from both Danba and neighbouring countries are also part of the project, and have large ambitions of eventually offering great holiday accommodation at well established wineries. Lu Shigui is a wealthy businessman who owns the winery and he claims that they will try to get their wines listed on the stock exchange within the next 5 years. He just has to remember that it is a highly competitive market and he is up against some strong competitors, especially the Yarra Valley wineries that I mentioned earlier. “The real dream is to improve wine quality and sell it to other countries,” he says.