Sign of the Top? Turning Desert Into Vinyards

Guardian: China's Bordeaux: winemakers in 'gold rush' to turn desert into vineyards
In 2012 she opened a vineyard on the stony eastern slopes of the Helan mountain, wagering that its parched land could produce world-beating wines. “There was nothing,” Gao recalls, weaving through newly planted lots of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, marcelan and petit verdot.

Four years on and a scramble for land is under way here as Chinese and international wine giants and super-rich would-be vintners follow Gao’s lead, ploughing fortunes into Ningxia wineries.

“It’s a gold rush,” says Fongyee Walker, a Beijing-based wine buff who learned her trade as the head of the Cambridge University Blind Wine Tasting Society and has made numerous trips to Ningxia province.

...Experts fear the dramatic influx of wine producers to Ningxia means there will simply not be enough water to support the industry. “Winemaking requires on average six to seven litres of water for every litre of wine,” says Walker. “Where is it going to come from?”

Soaring land prices are also causing small producers such as Gao to lose sleep. “Before it cost nothing; now it’s very expensive. Maybe 10 times more,” she says.
Something tells me the land sellers will be the big winners...

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