Fri, 22 Sep 2023

© Provided by Xinhua

YINCHUAN, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Feng Chao had strived to escape his home, a backward hinterland near the Gobi Desert back then, until three years ago, when he decided to return, opening a homestay.

He knows he made the right choice as his business has been booming lately, with all rooms fully booked during the May Day holiday.

"Even though we provide delicious dishes and barbecue buffet, I know it is the vast vineyards in the Gobi Desert that attract tourists," said Feng, 35.

Feng hails from Haoyuan Village, Xixia District of Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

The region boasts a unique terroir for making top-class wine, with its prolonged sunshine and a cool, dry climate contributing positively to grape planting. Since the production of its first bottle of wine in 1984, the land-locked region has become a rising star on the world's wine map, with local wines winning many international awards.

More than 200 wineries have settled down in the eastern foothills of Helan Mountain over the years, including 19 wineries in Haoyuan Village.

Feng always believes that it was the wine industry that saved his village, which was merely a barren stretch of land with scars of quarry sites and mine pits 20 years ago.

After trial and error, people eventually found that the land was too arid to grow other crops but ideal for wine grapes. Supported by the local government, villagers over the years turned the barren land into an oasis with about 1,200 hectares of vineyards.

Villagers become winery technicians, brewers, salespeople and even managers, with the income of every household related to the wine industry. Their annual wages range from 30,000 yuan (4,219 U.S. dollars) to 300,000 yuan, said Zhe Xiujun, a village official.

Villager Liu Can said 10 members of her family work in the village's Yuanshi winery, doing jobs like planting trees, managing vineyards and guiding wine tours. Liu, a university graduate, works as a member of the financial staff in the winery and earns a monthly salary of 5,000 yuan.

"We never expected to get stable pay, let alone having my own house and car," said the 31-year-old.

After more than 40 years of development, Ningxia has emerged as the country's largest wine-producing region. It produced 138 million bottles of wine in 2022, generating a brand value of over 30 billion yuan and providing about 130,000 jobs for local people every year.

Thanks to the burgeoning wine industry, Haoyuan Village has witnessed rapid development by integrating wine-grape agriculture, ecological resources, and rural tourism. Data shows that the village now welcomes about 500,000 visitors a year, raking in a total annual income of more than 5 million yuan.

Zhe said the village plans to build a picking garden, a camping site and a square for parent-child activities, hoping to create an agglomeration of homestays to attract more visitors.

"We have grown not only the green landscape but also industries and fortune," he said.

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