The scorching bedrock of the Flaming Mountains may not seem like the ideal place to grow anything, but the deep lush valleys along the mountain range act as oases for plants of all kinds. None are more famous than the illustrious Grape Valley, which has provided visitors with the finest grapes in the country for over 1,000 years. This fruity paradise has been made possible thanks to the long hours of sunlight that the region enjoys, coupled with an ingenious construction known as the karez irrigation system, which funnels melted snow down from the Tian Shan Mountains and uses it to water the grape vines. Needless to say, the only things wining in Grape Valley are the delicious grapes themselves!
The valley is located about 11 kilometres (7 mi) northeast of Turpan, on the west side of the Flaming Mountains, and takes up an area of approximately 2 square kilometres (0.8 sq. mi). Though it may be small, it boasts 13 different types of grape and produces over 300 tons of raisins every year. The sheer variety means you’ll find grapes as green as emeralds, as red as rubies, as small as pearls, and as large as buttons, so walking through the trellises represents a feast for both the tongue and the eyes!
Among the many kinds of grape, Manaizi and Wuhebai are the most prized. Manaizi literally means “mare’s nipple” as the long, pointed shape of these grapes resembles that of a teat, while wuhebai are white, seedless grapes that are reputed for their sweetness. Alongside the luscious grapes, several other fruits such as peaches, apricots, apples, and pomegranates are also grown in the valley. These sugary snacks are so delicious that, after a visit to Grape Valley, you’ll end up with more than just one sweet tooth!
Though the focus of the valley is primarily on fruit production, it has been opened to the public and is a pleasant diversion from the otherwise arid landscape of Xinjiang. There you can enjoy a peaceful stroll through the orchards, take a look at the drying rooms where the sweetest raisins are produced, purchase a few of the locally made jams and wines, or admire one of the daily performances of traditional dance by the Uyghur people. This cosy enclave of shops, restaurants, gardens, and hotels surrounded by fragrant fruit trees is a paradise that we’re sure you’ll be happy to get lost in!