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Xinjiang grape industry looks to diversity

08-24-2012 14:01 BJT

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We go to western China for the second in our series on life, economy, and culture in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region.

For a long time, the vineyards around the city of Tulufan have supplied the country with most of its grapes and virtually all of its raisins. But now, China’s largest grape growing region is looking for other ways to capitalize on its biggest assets.

Raisins have been big business in Tulufan for over 1,000 years. Most of China’s raisins have always come from here. And with modern technology, output has never been higher.

For a long time, Tulufan vineyards have supplied China with most of its grapes
and virtually all of its raisins.

These days, factories like this are able to export as much of 30 percent of their output. But now the region is looking into other ways to branch out.

Grape tourism is one big initiative that’s really starting to take-off. Visitors from China and beyond are venturing out here to take in the natural beauty of the vineyards.

Zhang Tao, tourist from Sichuan province, says, "It’s really wonderful here. The scenery is very beautiful. I especially love the bunches of grapes hanging everywhere. It’s really relaxing, it feels just like harvest time."

For a long time, Tulufan vineyards have supplied China with most of its grapes
and virtually all of its raisins.

Over the last year, income from tourism is up 13 percent. According to the general manager at this scenic site, the boost is partly down to a major marketing drive to draw more visitors to the grape region.

Lin Xintao, general manager of Tulufan Dawazi tourism development company, says, "The grape industry is a central part of local tourism here. Tourists come to Tulufan for two things: the grapes and the culture. In recent years, we’ve been doing a lot of advertising and promotional work in other provinces, putting a big focus on the grapes."

For a long time, Tulufan vineyards have supplied China with most of its grapes
and virtually all of its raisins.

Wine is also making a splash. The industry has been on the rise since 2005, with revenues at this company increasing 10 to 15 percent on average each year.

For a long time, Tulufan vineyards have supplied China with most of its grapes
and virtually all of its raisins.

Their production lines can churn out 3000 bottles in an hour, and across the the whole region 18,000 hectares of land is now dedicated to wine.

Foreign experts have been lending their expertise, and Tulufan wines are even beginning to attract wider notice.

For a long time, Tulufan vineyards have supplied China with most of its grapes
and virtually all of its raisins.

Zhang Lei, vice general manager of Chateau Tuoling, says, "Take our company for example. In the past, we only exported to Japan. Now we are expanding to the island of Taiwan, and countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Xinjiang has the best grapes in China, and there is great potential here."

Exports are still only a small part of the business, about 2 or 3 percent. But efforts to boost quantity and quality should see that figure rise in the years to come.

Local wine is on the rise here and eyeing international expansion. That’s on top of the modernization of the raisin industry, and a big push in tourism. With the economy continuing to grow and diversify, the future is looking bright for Tulufan.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: CCTV.com

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