Bordering Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan, Xinjiang, far from any ocean, is home to the world’s second largest shifting sand desert – the Takla Makan. This vast land is split neatly by the Tian Shan mountain（also known as the Tengri Tagh，meaning the Mountains of Heaven or the Heavenly Mountain）into two large basins: the Dzungarian Basinin the north, and the Tarim Basinin the south. Most vineyards are planted along these mountain edges.
Climate and Grape Growing
Generally, a semi-arid or desert climate prevails in Xinjiang.Ample sunshine and big diurnal range during the growing season help grapes reach high sugar concentration and retain high acidity. Most of the regions, except for Ili valley, are extremely dry, which has effectively lowered the incidence of fungal diseases, but has also entailed irrigation. Drip irrigation is widely practiced, drawing water from rivers fed by the snows of the Tianshan mountain. Another typical climate character about Xinjiang is the dramatic continentality, with highest temperatures exceeding 40 °C (104 °F) in summer and lowest temperature falling 25 °C below zero. Therefore, vines have to be buried in the earth every winter for protection from the extreme coldness.
Wine has been made in this area for 3000 years since Greek settlers brought vines and farming methods around 300BC. Documentation about Xinjiang grape wines can also be seen in the writings of Marco Polo in the 13th Century.Nowadays，Xinjiang has grown into the largest wine grape production province in China.
The North Slopeof Tianshan Mountain
This sub-region is located at 44°N，with an average altitude between 450-1000meters. Vineyards are spread along the northern slope of Tianshan Mountain, surrounding six town centers, namely Shihezi, Manasi, Hutubi, Changji Wujiaqu and Fukang from the west to the east.
It has a warm continental climate, with very hot summers and extremely cold winters, with the temperate reaching -25℃at the lowest point. Long-time sunshine, sufficient heat and huge diurnal range , especially in August and September, produce grapes with very deep color and high sugar content. This region is extremely dry, with an average monthly rainfall at 22 millimeters during the growing season. Water from the snow of Tianshan mountain is used for irrigation. The soils are deep and well-drained gravel and Sandy soils.
Red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Gernischet，Merlot，Gamay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Blue French，Saperavi；White Varieties include Chardonnay，Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Uni Blanc, and Yan73.
A small V-shaped wedge between Dzungarian Basin and Tarim Basin, limited by the Tian Shan’s main range in the south and the Borohoro Mountains in the north, is the basin of the Ili River, which flows into Kazakhstan’s Lake Balkhash. Located in the western border of China,influenced by Ili river and also some lakes, this region has a cool-warm climate. Best vineyards lie on the slopes to the south of Ili river. Here, wine grapes were planted since 2010 by a Chinese military regiment: Regiment 67. Gravel dominated soilsencourages the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling and Chardonnay.
The Turpan Basin
The Turpan Basinis a fault-bounded trough located in the eastern part of the Tian Shan. It is surrounded by fourmountain ranges: the Tian Shan in the west, the Bogda Shan in the north-west, the Haerlike Shan in the north-west, and the Jueluotage Shan in the south.It contains the lowest point in China, at 155 metres below sea level.With the first wine producing factory established in 1983，it is also the first viticulture region in Xinjiang.
Main grape varieties are : Cabernet Sauvignon，Merlot and Chardonnay.
Anthony Hanson M.W. was invited by Wine in China to host a wine tasting event in Yanqi Basin, in 2013
Being surrounded by mountains on three sides, Yanqi Basin is generally well protected from the strong wind that features this Gobi area. 300 km to the south, a freshwater lake extending 1200 sq.km has played an essential role in making viticulture possible in this extremely dry area, with an average annual rainfall at 70 mm. Yanqi has a continental climate with very hot summer and extremely cold winter. Vines have to be buried in the earth to survive the coldness in winter. Extreme climate conditions plus long hours of sunlight have effectively prevented any pests and fungal diseases.
Main varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Italian Riesling.