Winemaking history in Gansu can be dated back to 2400 years ago, with plenty of ancient Chinese poets featuring in wine in their poems. However, due to the far inland location and poor transportation to the outside world, wine industry in Gansu was subdued for a long time. As the economy develops in China, the years after 1997 has seen a fast growth in wine grape planting in Gansu.
Location and Geography
Gansu Province is located in the northwest of the country, lies between the Tibetan and Loess plateaus, bordering Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east. The Yellow River passes through the southern part of the province.
A natural land passage known as Hexi Corridor, the most important historical route from North China to the Tarim Basin and Central Asia for traders and the military, also known as part of the Silk Road, passes through Gansu. The corridor is a string of oases, bound from north by the Gobi Desert and the grasslands of Outer Mongolia, and Qilian Mountains, as part of the Tibetan Plateau, from the south. It is along Hexi Corridor that vineyards of Guansu are located.
Climate and Grape Growing
Gansu generally has a semi-arid to arid continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold to very cold winters. The dry climate with limited rainfall at less than 200mm annually, plentiful sunshine, significant diurnal ranges, plus infertile sandy soils with rich minerals and good drainage along the Hexi Corridor are particularly suitable for wine grapes. However, the extremely cold winter with temperatures sometimes dropping to −40 °C means that vines have to be buried in the earth every year for protection from the coldness and dryness.
Major sub regions in Gansu are Wuwei County, Zhangye County and Jiayuguan County; among which Wuwe has distinguished itself as an excellent wine producing region.
The area around Wuwei (36°46’°N to 38°9’°N)is part of Shiyang River Basin, located in the eastern end of the Hexi Corridor, known as Liangzhou in ancient times. This area used to be the hub the Ancient Silk Road.
Wuwei has a cool continental climate, with very limited rainfall. Well-drained sandy soils dominate in this region, rich in minerals but low in organic matter, with a relatively high pH, which necessitates the usage of fertilizers and also acidifier in the vineyards. Main varieties include Pinot Noir，Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Riesling. This area is also known for producing ice wine.