Uneven rainfall in September has complicated the 2015 wine harvest in China's Ningxia region and is likely to lead to much more varied quality in this year’s vintage.

A decision on when to pick grapes in the Ningxia 2015 wine harvest has taken on even more importance for several wineries after scattered rain and cloudy weather followed the white grape harvesting at the beginning of September, disturbing the ripening process of red grapes.

Many producers started red grape picking at mid-September, whereas others didn’t start until early October, hinting considerable variations in style and quality in the Ningxia 2015 vintage.

Helan Mountain East of Ningxia is widely considered as one of the key fine wine regions in China. Key sub-regions in this young and vast wine region include Shizuishan, Yinchuan, Qingtongxia and Hongsibao. However, the local producers are still in the process of identifying the features and potentials of each sub-region.

‘The Helan Mountain East region lies in the more humid side of the mountain,’ said ZHANG Zhijie, owner of local educational institution Yinchuan Aroma Votaty Culture Communication.

‘The volume of rainfall here is small but the wind is very strong; also the topography varies from area to area, causing unbalanced precipitation across the whole region,’ Zhang told DecanterChina.com.

‘Every sub-region and variety showed varied ripeness this year (due to the uneven rainfall),’ said ZHONG Xiang, winemaking consultant to several local wineries including Château Hedong and Domaine Cheng Cheng, ‘this is going to be an interesting vintage.’

‘Rainfall generally slowed down the ripening process,’ said New Zealand winemaker David Tyney, who is also the wine consultant to Château Yuhuang. The key to the success of this vintage lies in winemakers’ ‘accurate decision’ on when to pick, Tyney told DecanterChina.com.

The first half of the 2015 was eventless, said SHAO Qingsong, winemaker of Lilan Winery, with ‘perfect weather in spring and summer, and great sunshine during veraison.’

‘The flowering came earlier than usual, and the veraison happened one to two weeks ahead as well,’ SUN Rui, one of the owners of Domaine des Aromes told DecanterChina.com. ‘We thought 2015 was going to be a warm and early harvest vintage.’

This story was first published on DecanterChina.com