Grape Expectations

China’s boutique wine movement comes of age—our Issue 2 cover story

At the age of 22, Emma Gao arrived in Bordeaux to begin a master’s program in wine-making, having never even tasted the beverage before. “I told my father that I didn’t want to work in agriculture, but he said he wouldn’t pay my tuition unless I studied enology,” Gao recalls, laughing.

Now co-owner of Silver Heights Winery in China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Gao found it hard at first to keep up with her European classmates, whose families had been making wine for generations.

Her family vineyard’s story was quite different: Although the Ningxia government had been encouraging farmers in this northwestern desert region to plant trees to combat deforestation in the 1990s, Gao’s father failed to see how this would lead to long-term profit. After spending five years conducting business over glasses of wine in Russia, he decided to start his own winery instead, but first sent his daughter abroad to learn the ropes in 2000.

Some vineyards in northern China face unique climate challenges

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Grape Expectations is a story from our issue, “Grape Expectations.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


Emily Conrad is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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