Ningxia gets power to import grapevines directly

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Winemakers in Ningxia may find it easier to import the grape varieties and clones that they need to continue to improve the quality and diversity of their wines after China’s government said vines could be imported directly to the province for the first time.

Image: Helan Mountain East region, Ningxia © Li Demei

A ‘designated point of entry’ for fruit and vines was to be established in Ningxia’s provincial capital Yinchuan, announced China’s State Forestry Administration last week.

The move should allow vines to be shipped to the autonomous region directly, without bypassing other ports, such as Beijing or Xiamen. Quarantine officials said the plan will ‘shorten the time for vine transport and cut down operation costs for companies’, so as to avoid ‘missing the best planting time’.

So far, 6.4 million vines from France, Italy, the US and Australia have been imported into China’s key wine regions, according to official figures, among which 4m are imported into Ningxia, marking the region’s endeavours to improve the quality of its vineyards.

‘We estimate the time [it takes] for vines to [go via] other ports to something like six to eight weeks,’ said Julien Lalu, export manager of the Mercier Groupe, a French-based grapevine supplier that regularly exports grafted vines to China.

The new port will be based in the existing Yinchuan Comprehensive Free Trade Zone and Yinchuan International Airport Logistics Zone. National and local quarantine authorities are supervising its construction, said officials.

‘Shortening the time of transport will help,’ Lalu told DecanterChina.com, but he added that it’s not likely to bring dramatic change to the time needed for the import process, because the quarantine alone can take ‘45-60 days’.

The situation may change, however, as the Chinese quarantine authorities announced last November that it planned to ‘shorten the inspection time and simplify the checking process’ when grapevines reach Chinese customs.

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