Toasting a new era

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 12 Nov 2019

This year's Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival has been called off. Fortunately, indoor events are not affected as much by the social unrest.

For example, the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair went ahead as planned.

Before the event, Hong Kong Wine Chamber of Commerce founding president Henry Ho Yiu-hong reminded everyone to attend. Two ceremonies took place at the fair to kick off cooperation of the wine industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, and the signing of the Ningxia-Hong Kong wine industry collaboration agreement.

I was part of a delegation to Ningxia last year in which Ho was also a member. While visiting some wineries there, local as well as foreign-invested brands, Ho offered insights into how to break into the Hong Kong market.

As Hong Kong is a gateway for international trade, we saw many Ningxia wineries showcasing their products at the fair. Ningxia and Bordeaux, France, lie on around the same latitude. But Ningxia's climate is drier, hence there are fewer pest problems, which is a plus both for vegetable farming and viticulture.

In recent years, Ningxia has been earnestly promoting viticulture, and wineries are sparing no resource to bring in French knowhow.

Such efforts are beginning to see results. Ningxia red wines are beginning to establish a name for themselves in Hong Kong.

For example, I was told a batch of limited edition Helan Hong has been ordered as a gift for supporters of the customs and excise Department as it celebrates its 110th anniversary this year.

Helan Hong is red wine made on the eastern side of the Helan Mountain, a region that boasts many up-and-coming wineries.

Quite a few Ningxia wines are available for tasting at the fair, including Helan Hong, a high price-performance ratio brand forged jointly by the Ningxia government and wineries that target export markets.

Commissioner of Customs and Excise Hermes Tang Yi-hoi favors Helan Hong because he believes in the quality of grapes grown in Ningxia, and thinks the wine is worth recommending. I think friends will appreciate the commissioner's choice after tasting it.

Siu Sai-Wo is publisher of the Sing Tao Daily

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