In this undated photo, Lhasa locals offer barley wine to neighbors in the Tibet autonomous region. (CHOGO / XINHUA)
LHASA - While singing a cheery toast song, Golha Drolma pours wine into the glasses of guests in her own courtyard in the Tibet autonomous region in the southwest of China.
Golha Drolma is from the rural area of Mangkam county, located in a dry and hot valley where grapes grow better. In her hometown with a winemaking history of more than 100 years, almost every household grows grapes and knows how to brew wine.
"The grapes grown here are big and sweet, so the wine made from them is popular," said Golha Drolma, who runs a Tibetan-style restaurant at home.
"Mangkam grapes" was registered as one of the Agro-product Geographical Indications in 2020 and the county now has six wine enterprises
By selling their homemade wine and growing grapes for modern wineries, local villagers in Mangkam have benefited from the wine industry, reaping a fortune.
"Our company has developed 10 relevant products, including dry red and dry white wine. We produce 200 tonnes of wine a year, worth about 30 million yuan (about US$4.46 million)," said Losum Tsering, chairman of a local winery in the county.
Apart from the favorable climate, the grapes are grown in accordance with the organic farming methods, which is another reason why the company's wines are favored by consumers, he said.
Losum Tsering studied grape and winemaking at Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi province in the northwest of China, before spending all his savings and loaning another 900,000 yuan to start the winemaking business in 2011.
"We had to bring in modern technology here so that our wine products can go out," he said.
With government support, wine has become an important industry in Mangkam county. "Mangkam grapes" was registered as one of the Agro-product Geographical Indications in 2020 and the county now has six wine enterprises.
As wine companies encourage the nearby villagers to grow grapes, the income of the locals has seen growth. The grape plantation area of Mangkam county has reached over 666.7 hectares, generating an annual income of more than 8,000 yuan per household.
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Losum Tsering said his company planned to build a chateau and expand its wine cellar and exhibition hall to attract tourists.
"By combining winemaking with tourism, we can do a lot more to spread the wine culture in Mangkam," he said.
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