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Chroniques

Chronique 12

A brief review of the Ningxia viticulture, China
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Alain DELOIRE, SupAgro, Université de Montpellier, France
Zhenping Wang, College of Agriculture, Ningxia University, Xixia District, Yinchuan, China
Corresponding author : alain.deloire@supagro.fr

 

The Ningxia province of China is among the most important wine regions (Figure 1). The other wine regions are located in the following provinces: Shandong, Hebei, Xinjiang, Gansu, Henan, Ningxia, Shanxi ,Yunnan, Sichuan.    

 

The number of wineries in the Ningxia province is around 86 with the average vineyard size at 12-15 hectares. Depending on the winery, they may or may not have their own vineyard. Most wineries  purchase grapes from farmers.  Depending on the market and on the cultivar, the average price of one kg of grape fluctuates from 5-20 RMB.

 

According to what we know, the vineyard area in Ningxia is around 36,000 hectares for wine grapes, which corresponds to 540,000 mous according to governmental numbers (The common unit for area in China is the mou, where one mou = 667 m2).

 

The main planted varieties are :

 

  • Red Cultivars: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Carmenère (Cabernet-Gernischet that had been identified by Professor Alain Carbonneau, SupAgro), Merlot, Cabernet franc,  Shiraz, Petit Verdot. More recently the wineries started to plant an interesting variety for the Ningxia climate which is Marselan. Marselan is a French crossing between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache Noir obtained by INRA (France).

 

  • White cultivars: Chardonnay, Riesling, Riesling Italico, Ugni Blanc.  

 


It is difficult to provide accurate numbers on the planted area for each variety, however the predominant wine varieties are Cabernet-Sauvignon, Carmenère (Cabernet Gernischet ) and Merlot. To date, the Chinese market is mainly asking for red wines from those varieties. Most of the wines are sold domestically in Ningxia or across China. It has been suggested that this province also experiment with other varieties from Europe, Georgia and beyond that could potentially better suit the sites (climate x soil): hot-warm climate, drought, winter frost.  Benefits would be derived from establishing a grapevine library in the Ningxia region around Yinchuan to gain insights into potentially promising varieties for this area.

 

The Ningxia climate (Figure 2) during the fruit growth and the ripening period is warm to hot during the day (30-35°C) and temperate to warm during the night (18-20°C).  The particularity of the climate is its very cold winter where the temperature could reach below -20°C. This has huge consequences on vineyard management and the choice of the grapevine training system. Grapevine buds can tolerate frost to around -15°C depending on variety and the climatic conditions preceding these temperatures. The annual rainfall is around 200 mm, occurring in July, August and September. The rainfall distribution during berry growth and maturation is considered to aggrevate grapevine disease development.

 

The main soils of the viticultural regions within the Ningxia province are sandy soils: either classical sand from the desert or from the river or a very fine sand from the mountain (Figures 3, 4). The best soil according to the local experts is composed of fine sand and stones (Figure 4). These deep soils have limited water holding capacity and supplementary irrigation is required.  The pH of these soils is around 8-8,5. To reduce the soil pH, animals compost is used (cattle and sheep) or gypsum or humic acid.