The China Planning Challenge by Leigh-Ann Luckett

Wine fundi, Leigh-Ann Luckett, continues with her travels around the world in search of wine…. next stop, China.

The fact that wine is produced in China seemed a bit of a shock to most people outside of China. And, seemingly, most people we encountered in China, even those in one of the most concentrated wine producing regions. At time, based on the hassle to arrange visits to the wineries, I was almost convinced it came as a shock to the wineries themselves.

Don’t let that put you off though – I will say that the wine was worth the hassle in the end. Most of it, at least.

As I’ve subtly hinted, planning a trip is not quite as simple as doing a quick Google search. China is massively vast. Ridiculously so. Meaning wine regions are also ridiculously far apart. Where to start? We grabbed the Asian Wine Review & plotted which area had the highest concentration of  award-winning wineries (will AWR become the Platter Guide of Asia?). This extremely scientific approach led us to the city of Yinchuan in the Ningxia province – a finger of desert sticking into Inner Mongolia alongside the Helan Mountain range. That part was easy. Finding contact details & planning an itinerary, however, was not. A 3-day itinerary eventually came to light through multiple emails; cold-calling wine writers; WeChats to winemakers, professors, tour guides; & endless map guesswork.

At last, with a few days to spare & no means of getting to & between the wineries, we were set to board the train & taste some wine – or so we thought…