During these pandemic times, various Hong Kong organisations are using their own means to help the needy. Puchang Vineyard in Xinjiang, China, is no exception. They have recently launched a fundraising programme where 70% of the sales from the special edition of their Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, featuring a label of a painting by local artist Lam Tian Xing, will be donated to HK charity Food Angel.

The painting, entitled Gatherings (聚), is from Master Lam’s famous Lotus Series, which displays his thoughts on nature and his passion for life. Food Angel’s vision is to “let lives be enriched through giving and receiving”, while Puchang was established based on the founder’s love for Xinjiang and its organic produce. The common beliefs of the artist and winery founder connect them, leading them to help the underprivileged.

Puchang is a winery in Xinjiang owned by a HK family, the Cheungs. A successful businessman, KK Cheung was impressed by Xinjiang’s unspoilt landscape, sunny weather and the abundance of fresh produce available there. As a wine lover and entrepreneur, he believes that Xinjiang is a good place to grow grapes organically. Cheung founded Puchang Vineyard in 2008, planting 118 grape varieties in order to determine which varieties best suit the terroir. He spent the next five years working on the vineyards before releasing the first wine in 2013.

Fast-forward to now, Puchang has reduced its grape varieties, and it now has around 10 wines in its portfolio. Besides Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, which are internationally known, they also grow Saperavi and Rkatsiteli (originating in Georgia in the Caucasus) and Beichun, a hybrid grape developed specially for the Xinjiang climate. Chief winemaker Loris Tartaglia, an Italian who has made wine in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, is keen to experiment with new varieties, and he adopts minimal intervention in order to allow the wines to fully reflect the terroir.

Xinjiang has a continental climate with big diurnal temperature differences. The grapes grown there ripen with a high sugar content but still retain high acidity. Xinjiang wine is full-bodied, with intense fruit concentration supported by a firm structure. The fundraising wine, Puchang Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, is powerful, with rich black fruits complemented by raisins and a forest-floor bouquet owing to ageing. The tannin is well integrated, and it has a long life ahead.

Puchang aims to raise HK$100,000 for Food Angel. This wine, with a limited production of around 600 bottles, will be priced at $380 per bottle, equivalent to 22 meal boxes. It will be available for purchase at Puchang’s online store from 12 April until 9 May. Delivery is between May and June, depending on logistics.

Food Angel is a food-rescue and assistance programme with the mission of “Waste Not, Hunger Not, With Love”. Around 35 tonnes of edible surplus food are recused each week, creating over 15,000 free-of-charge, nutritious meals for low-income people including the elderly, unemployed and homeless.

Puchang is entirely family run. Cheung’s three daughters had their own careers, but they were all attracted by Puchang’s potential and now work full time in the business in sales and marketing. Cheung is still very hands on and focuses on production. Puchang wines are available at Watson’s Wine and fine-dining establishments around Hong Kong.

I once visited a Xinjiang winery, and I am convinced that the region has the potential to grow high-quality grapes. However, the location, in the middle of the Gobi Desert, is remote, with extreme temperatures ranging from –20–54ºC – certainly not for the faint-hearted. I hope the Cheung sisters will continue to persevere and pass on their passion for wine to future generations.

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A marketer turned winemaker, I make, promote, judge, write about and drink wine.

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