Eastern promise

Eastern promise

Eastern promise


Jade Vineyard


From the unique terroir of China’s rising fine-wine region, Ningxia, Jade Vineyard is producing wine to match the world’s best

Jade Vineyard was born through serendipity and inspiration. When founder Emma Ding’s French tutor gave her an article about the business of importing wine, she was immediately captivated by the world that was described within, and spotted huge potential. Within a year, the former banker was importing French wine to China, opening a shop and a wine club. After seven successful years selling fine wine, she felt she was ready to take her bold next step.

“I wanted to follow my heart,” says Emma. “I had this desire and passion to open a Chinese vineyard. We opened in spring 2013 after I found this piece of remote land that had never been used by humans before. I produced my first wine in 2014 with grapes purchased from another vineyard; we wanted to see if we could make good wine before we did our first harvest with our own grapes. Our first vintage was in 2016, and we were very happy with the results. Amazingly, we won a gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Opening a vineyard was a big challenge, but I have never regretted it and my ambition now is to improve all the time.”

The award-winning vineyard, which has numerous international and domestic accolades, is located in northwest China in the Helan Mountains in Ningxia. It is an exceptionally dry region, with little rainfall and a dramatic climate that is very hot in summer and very cold in winter. In this challenging but rewarding and distinctive terroir, vines have to be covered by earth to ensure they survive freezing winters. Working with an all-Chinese team, Emma has planted vines in around 15 hectares and currently produces 100,000 bottles a year. “We use noble grapes from Europe,” she explains. “We are mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot, with some Cabernet Franc for blending. We also use Marselan, which is a very special grape in Chinese terroir. It is originally from France but has become much more popular in China.”

With wonderful views of the surrounding mountains, the winery even has a professional concert hall, where Emma hopes to stage regular musical festivals – renowned cellist Chu Yibing performed a concert for its opening in 2019. The building symbolises some of the style and confidence that Emma wants to bring to her wines, a number of which have labels adorned with Emma’s own abstract paintings.

Jade Vineyard’s wines, such as the flagship Messenger, have already made a huge impact in China and Hong Kong, having been selected to feature in some of the region’s biggest luxury hotels; but Emma is now targeting European distribution. “The Chinese market has huge potential because of the country’s economic development, but we pay a lot of attention to London as it is the centre of the fine wine world – it is the most active and influential fine wine market in the world.”

Emma believes her success is derived, in part, from her unusual situation as a Chinese woman in the masculine world of wine. “China is a new face for the wine world and something new is always exciting and mysterious,” she says. “I believe that being female is good for winemaking. Women are very sensitive and we can bring some of our femininity into it, and that could be good for wine.”