It's a long way from Te Awanga to Ningxia in the heart of China but when there is wine to be made distance and location is not really an issue.

And for Clearview Estate Winery's newest winemaker Matt Kirby it could be a nice little feather in the cap should what he creates during his China wine experience get the thumbs up from a judging panel in two years - not to mention a nice little earner.

Mr Kirby, with 59 other winemakers from around the world, will be competing for the more than $200,000 prize pool in the second Ningxia Wine Challenge, which has been organised by the International Federation of Vine and Wine of Helan Mountain's East Foothill with support from Ningxia's Bureau of Grape Industry Development.

The 33-year-old, who joined Clearview at the start of the year, is one of only seven Kiwi winemakers accepted from more than 140 applicants around the world, and is the only one from Hawke's Bay.


Their tasks will be to create a winning wine made from the grapes of China's most promising wine region.

Mr Kirby will fly out for Ningxia, which is 1200km west of Beijing, on September 18 and will spend 15 days there taking part in grape selection and initial fermentation.

He will return up to six times over the two-year period of the challenge for between five and 15 days, to manage his wines until the autumn of 2017 when they will be judged.

All his visit costs are covered by the organisers.

"I'm really excited by this challenge," he said.

"China's wine industry is developing so quickly it's going to be interesting to see and experience this first-hand - and because it is all so new all the technology will be the very latest, which is really exciting."

As well as the challenge of creating wines from one of China's fastest growing regions, Mr Kirby said building relationships was also behind his decision to go for a place among the global team of winemakers.

He said Clearview had been exporting to China for eight years and strong distribution networks were in place, and through that time it had become clear how much value was placed on strong relationships.

"I am sure that telling the Clearview story, along with Hawke's Bay and New Zealand wine stories, will be part of my work there."

Wines from the Ningxia region have earned high praise in China, which has a burgeoning wine market, as well as around the world.