The fragrance of pressed grapes perfumes the mountain air in the small village of Tharma in Sangri county of the Tibetan autonomous region this time of year.
Grape cultivation in the county that sits at an average altitude of 3,600 meters above sea level has increased the wealth of the residents and created a whole new local industry that is prospering.
Sangri, which includes the villages of Tharma, Lok, Horbothang and Drokyi, was even certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 as the highest location on the planet where grapes are grown.
Organic grape growing was introduced to the county, which is blessed by a mild climate and moderate sunshine, via an Aid-Tibet project funded by Hunan province, and since 2011, the cultivation area has increased from less than 1 hectare to nearly 666 hectares.
The vineyards in Sangri county were recognized in 2021 for their production of green, pollution-free products.
"The harvest season for grapes and the best time for making wine are right now. We've finished with picking the grapes and we've been busy making wine lately," Luo Minglu, a manager at Sangri County Pakdrub Rongshun Zhuangyuan Co — which operates the business — was quoted as saying by China News Service.
The company has played a key role in bringing suppliers and local households together to produce wine and other products that have increased the standard of living in the area.
Between 2016 and 2022, the company's cumulative grape yield reached 590 metric tons. More than 500 villagers were employed last year, with more than 2.9 million yuan ($406,000) spent on salaries.
The grape yield and the wine production of the company are expected to reach 350 tons and 150 tons by 2022, respectively.
Yangjen Lhamo, an employee at Sangri County Pakdrub Rongshun Zhuangyuan, said she and her sister have worked at the company for years, and not only do they enjoy their toils and spoils but the vineyards are located very close to home.
"I earn nearly 6,000 yuan a month, and I am very pleased with my job," she said. "Thanks to the good policies from the government, it is easy to have a better life if we work hard."