introducing its land and culture to a worldwide audience.
magazine aimed at promoting Yamanashi Prefecture by
The Yamanashi Grapevine is a freely distributed annual
History of winemaking in Japan's fruit kingdom
Delving into the spirit of Japanese Wine Pioneer, Chateau Mercian
Embracing the true-to-nature taste at Kurambon Winery
Wine and Dine at SADOYA Restaurant Real D’or – Winery, Restaurant, and Wine Boutique –
The Hands of a Farmer
A Dip in the Wine Baths of Isawa
Festivals in Japan’s Wine Country
Staff Picks : Wine Edition
The Yamanashi Grapevine is written and edited by Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) from the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, with the assistance of trainees and exchange staff from Yamanashi's sister states.
History of winemaking in Japan's fruit kingdom by : Vitor Diniz Martins (former Trainee from Minas Gerais, Brazil)
amanashi prefecture has been blessed by Mother
of Minas Gerais, embarking on a personal search for the
Nature. It is astonishing how the landscape and
valleys and waterfalls that spread in our national parks. So
the atmosphere changes so quickly on the brief
did I like Yamanashi? No, loved it! Actually, I was anxious
train ride from Tokyo. Within just 90 minutes, one leaves
at the beginning, wondering if I would be able to visit all of
one of the biggest metropolises in the world and arrives in a
the greatest spots around here in the short amount of time I
prefecture that is covered 78% by forest. Just by stepping
had. So I started fast. In my only first two months I managed
off the train and getting that breath of fresh air, your body
to visit Shosenkyo, Nishizawa Gorge, Minobusan and also
and soul is instantly refreshed. Here you enter a land where
hiked Mount Fuji. Tired but rewarded with so scenic views!
scenic mountains, forests, lakes and valleys substitute
But Yamanashi has so many other things to see. The
skyscrapers, concrete and neon lights.
Mountain (Yama) Pear (Nashi) is also the fruits kingdom of
I am an outdoor person, so Yamanashi was love at first
Japan. A favorable climate allows the prefecture to produce
sight for me. Like my home state of Minas Gerais in Brazil,
pears, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, Japanese plum, as
Yamanashi is also a landlocked area; there are no nearby
well as the best peach and grapes in the country. But don't
beaches, but plenty of nature to explore. But nature is not
expect to eat everything during a brief trip. It is important
the two sister state/prefectures only commonality. Friendly
to note that Japanese culture values seasonal ingredients.
people, a countryside atmosphere, and a slowdown pace
“Shun”is the word that refers to the time of year when a
compared to the neighboring areas is a description that fits
fruit or vegetable is at peak harvest season, and so at this
both my old home and my new.
time it will be freshest, most flavorful and also the cheapest!
Despite sharing borders with São Paulo and Rio de
Some people complain that fruits are expensive in Japan,
Janeiro respectively, the most populated and the most
but the taste is incomparable. That being said, researching
tourist gathering place in Brazil, Minas Gerais too has a
what fruits are in season can help you save some yen!
completely different vibe. Locals here are known as the best
It is now October; the hot weather of the summer has
hosts in the country and are friendly and gentle people with
gone, and the leaves are starting to turn red and create a
hospitality similar to the good-old Japanese Omotenashi.
beautiful autumn atmosphere. At this time of the year grape
One of my favorite hobbies was trekking in the mountains
harvest is at its peak. Making autumn a wonderful season to
go around Yamanashi wineries, savor the delicious fruit and
experience the winemaking process first hand. So, for today
learn about winemaking in Japan.
we selected Fuefuki Wine and Chateau Mercian.
Thanks to climate advantages such as being inland and
Fuefuki Wine is a small family owned winery with a cozy
having mountainous weather, long sunshine hours and little
atmosphere and an interesting tour experience. After eating
rain, Yamanashi is also the best suitable area in Japan for
all-you-can-eat grapes, we picked grapes directly from the
wine cultivation. Thus, it is no wonder it hosts the biggest
grapevines and then stomped them with our feet to simulate
concentration of grape farms and wineries in Japan. The
the wine-making in the old times. The sensation of the
prefecture of Yamanashi is by far the biggest producer of
grapes bursting beneath your feet with each step is quite
wine in Japan, but it is not just about quantity. The area
curious in its own right. Similarly, just as curious is tasting
is recognized for the quality of the wines produced, being
grape juice squished by your own feet. This is the juice that
awarded with a“Geographical labeling”which is a label
will also be used to produce your own wine. In order to
that identifies the origin of a product that has a unique
make the experience even more entertaining you are invited
quality or high reputation linked to the characteristics of the
to personalize your own label, drawing whatever it is up to
origin. As a result, wines labeled“Yamanashi”are quality
your imagination or you can send them a personal photo
guaranteed, and can be distributed as a highly valued wine
to use. As the wine takes some days to ferment, you are
with geographical indications. Departing from Kofu we headed east in a 30 minutes car ride to the municipalities of Yamanashi City, Fuefuki City, and Katsunuma Town. On the way, many grape farms can be seen in the surrounding areas, making for a very pleasant trip. There are more than 80 unique wineries in this region each one worth a visit. Perhaps the hardest part of the trip is choosing which ones to visit. We decided to narrow down our search and looked for places that we could learn both about the history of wine production in Yamanashi and also
expected to receive your bottle one month later.
However, not too long after, it started to gain popularity and
After this hands-on experience, we headed to Chateau
arouse interest of some farmers.
Mercian. Being the biggest and the oldest winery in Japan,
In the 1870s, two young men from Yamanashi were
the atmosphere there is a mixes stylish elegance with old
dispatched to France to learn winemaking. Ryuken Tsuchiya
fashion sentiment. At Mercian, they provide a very complete
and Masanari Takano left Japan on October 1877 and
tour, explaining the entire process of winemaking. The tour
arrived in Paris after a 45 days length trip via Hong Kong,
starts with a visit to a cellar where wine is stored allowing
Singapore, Sri Lanka, Aden, Suez, Port Said, and finally
visitors to take a look at barrels used for fermentation and
Marseille. Just 9 years after the reopening of the nation, one
view the bottling process. Outside, you can walk through a
can only imagine the courage and ambition these two must
vineyard, with samples of almost every type of vine planted
have had to set out on such a journey.
by the winery. Here they have everything from western
After returning to Japan, with the acquired knowledge of
classics like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Japanese
grape cultivation and winemaking, they helped to establish
originals like Koshu and Muscat Bailey A. It is interesting to
in Katsunuma the first winery of the country. Taking
notice the differences between the leaves, the stems, and
advantage of the large availability of Koshu grapes, the idea
the way each species grows. Soon after, comes the highlight
grown rapidly amongst farmers.
of the tour; wine tasting. Chateau Mercian produces some of
And only two years later, the production of wine in Japan
the best wines in Japan earning even international awards,
reached the amount of 2,400 liters. During the following
so it was no surprise that the wines were delicious.
decades the production grew consistently. During the 1940's
Unlike Fuefuki Wine, which is a more recent winery,
before World War II there were already 149 wineries in Japan
Chateau Mercian was created 140 years ago. In order to
producing a total volume of 11,500 liters. Also new varieties
preserve the memories of the company and the history of
of grapes were introduced in the country. Due to propitious
wine making in Japan, the old building of the winery that
climate and soil, Delaware, Muscat Bailey A, Kyoho,
were left unchanged for over a century is now a museum.
Cabernet Savignon and other grapes started to be used on
Here you can see various pieces of equipment from the
winery's past. Talking with the owners of Fuefuki Wine and
Nowadays wine continuous increasing in popularity in
exploring this museum I found the key to unlock the mystery
Japan. And with an ever-increasing consumer base even
behind Japanese wine production: when and how wine
more demand of consumers, wineries have popped-up all
production started in Japan.
around the prefecture. With the rise in wine production came
Grapes hace been produced for a long time in the island
a rise in people who wanted to learn more of the history of
nation. Studies indicate that it probably arrived from Europe
the alcoholic beverage. It is because of this that wineries
then China through the Silk Road a thousand years ago.
started to open their doors for tourists and, combined with
Until the 19th century, basically just the Koshu grape was
the beautiful landscape, Yamanashi has turned into the wine
cultivated. This is the variety that best adapted to Japan's
lovers' paradise. Thousands of national and international
climate, with more rainfall than most other grape producers'
tourists come every year to take a sip of the country's best
countries. Despite this long history of grape cultivation, until
wines while watching the mountains and vineyards. If you
the time of the reopening of the ports at the beginning of the
are a wine lover I definitely recommend taking a trip down to
Meiji Era, there was no records of wine production in Japan.
the area today!
Delving into the spirit of Japanese Wine Pioneer, Chateau Mercian by : Hou Jie (Exchange staff from Sichuan, China)
n an island nation such as Japan, prefectures that do not directly have access to the sea are rare. Yamanashi prefecture is one of those rarities,
surrounded by lavish mountains that easily elevate beyond 2000~3000 meters. It is one of Japan's few landlocked prefectures. With little overall rainfall throughout the year, the prefecture experiences long hours of daylight. In terms of the climate, the foothills temperatures are cooler than the basins, and tend to experience more rainfall. Due to this fact, grapes are actively cultivated at the foot of the mountain, around the basin. â€ƒIn the year 1877, the first privately owned wine company was established under the name Dainichi Yamanashi Grape Wine Company and since then has held 140 years of Japanese wine making history. After sending two youths to France, to study the craft of wine making, they returned and began creating the first Japanese wine. Inheriting the title of the nation's oldest wine company, and becoming one of the leading producers of Japanese wine, you have none other than Yamanashi's very own Chateau Mercian.
The Chateau Mercian Winery is now under Mercian, a
use water and either rice or barley as their main ingredients,
subsidiary of the Kirin Group. According to the President of
wine is slightly different in that the only ingredient is grapes.
the Mercian Co., Ltd the word Mercian, in the company's
Thus, the most important aspect of making wine lies in
name, was taken from the French word“Merci,”meaning
“thank you”. Using this name allows the company to
On the dinner table of the average Japanese family lies
express their gratitude towards being blessed with nature
cooking from all across the world. Curry from India one day,
and society. Employees of Chateau Mercian have been
and perhaps Italian pasta or German hamburgers another.
working hard at realizing their goal of being a company that
Thus, to create different wines that would complement
hold similar values near and dear. For the people at Mercian,
anything that makes it to the average Japanese table
the best way to show their appreciation to their precious
Chateau Mercian invested in cultivating a global collection
customers and stakeholders is to continue producing of
of grapes. On top of popular varieties such as Chardonnay,
their great and highly esteemed products. And so, with every
Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah,
effort to express the charming finesse and elegance that
their collection also includes Japanese Classics such as
comes with each bottle, the people behind the brand have
Muscat Bailey A and the Koshu variety.
worked hard to create a strong work culture. Just like the
According to Mr. Masugi who works as Curator of
two passionate youths sent out centuries ago, each worker
Mercian's Wine Gallery, the winery is currently researching
at Chateau Mercian has a sparkle in their eyes as they
20 different types of grapes. Every year they choose a field
work to advance not only Mercian, but the Japanese Wine
of research such as cultivation, fragrance, color, etc. and
industry that their predecessors helped build.
work hard to improve that field.
As a result of all the effort that Chateau Mercian has put
Those at Chateau Mercian are fully aware of the amount
in, they have placed in countless wine competitions not
of influence that things such as climate and drainage may
only in Japan but across the world. Just to give you an idea
have on the grape harvesting process. One particular thing
of how successful the brand is, three of their wines were
I found interesting, as I learned about the ingenuity behind
served at the dinner party following the annual G7 Summit
the winery, was that they plant rose bushes amongst the
in 2016, a meeting of some of the most powerful politicians
grapevines as measures against disease. Roses not only
in the world. With each product they set forth, Chateau
grow faster than grapes, but in case of illness, they also
Mercian sets trends in taste and flavors of wines across the
wither much sooner. This can signal to grape farmers that
nation, and the world.
something is wrong before the disease takes over the grapes. One other point I found interesting, was their desire to
From the Production Process to Perfecting Quality
only use their grapes in their most natural of conditions. In European countries such as France, it is a common practice for wineries to continue to reuse the same grape vines for up
My journey through the winery began with learning about
to fifty years and sometimes beyond. However, the quality
the importance of ingredients used to produce Chateau
of the grapes is sacrificed in the process as the vines begin
Mercian's Wine. Unlike Japanese sake and whisky, which
to age at thirty. Although most European Wineries do take countermeasures to prevent the aging of the vines from showing in the taste, those at Mercian take care to only use vines at their natural point of perfection. Hearing about this reminded me very much of Japan's values as a whole. It often surprises foreigners how short the shelf life of Japanese foods tend to be, especially coming from countries like China and the U.S which are infamous for using preservatives. However, Japan is different. Here, the natural state is embraced and, as if representing their home country Chateau Mercian carries those same values into the western dominated world of wine.
Connecting with the World : Import and Export
bottle that Japanese wine has been able to come this far despite the setbacks. As of now, Mercian is especially focusing on exporting their products and introducing Japanese wine to places
As an ambitious competitor in the international market, it
such as France, Italy, Spain, and Chile. In total, Mercian
makes sense that Mercian aims to be the number one wine
sends their wine to 10 different countries, and 50 different
production company in the world. Focusing on increasing
wine companies across the world. They do so in hopes of
exposure for Japanese wine on the world stage they have
not only spreading awareness of Japanese wine but also
been working aggressively on both importing and exporting
in order to help foster future partnerships between wine
wine. To the people at Mercian, they feel as if they have a
companies in which they can learn and help each other.
duty introduce the unique and excellent wines produced
On the domestic side they have placed gold two years
in Japan to the world, all while making sure Japan has the
in a row in the Japan Wine Competition in Kofu, one of the
opportunity to try the world's finest wines from the comfort
nation's biggest competitions. Even more amazing, their
of their homes.
wine was even presented during the crowning of Japans
According to a statistics report published by the Japan
new emperor. The way Mr. Masugi's eyes shone as he told
National Tax Agency Alcohol Tax Division, in 2017 fruit based
me all this really proved to me that it is thanks to dedicated
liquor accounted for only 4.4% of the alcohol sold in Japan.
workers like him that Chateau Mercian has come this far.
Half of that percentage was imported wine, while Japanese
Before visiting Chateau Mercian I didn't know that much
wine could only place at a mere tenth of that number.
about wine and its industry. However, now after walking
Although Japanese wine production began over 140 years
through the grapevines, discovering the secrets of the
ago, it had only been within the last 30 years that it became
museum, sipping the wine, and hearing the story of Mr.
something that commercial buyers wanted to fill their
Masugi- I feel as if my eyes have been opened to a whole
glasses with. A lot of this had to do with the fact that, being
new world. For those who would like to take their own
a small country Japan only has so much land it can dedicate
journey into the wonderful world of Japanese wine at a tour
to wine production. This matter eventually influences pricing,
through Mercian, you can make a reservations through their
making it cheaper for Japan to import foreign wines rather
homepage. What I've covered in my article is only the tip of
than producing them domestically. However, it is thanks
the ice berg, so I invite you to take the journey yourself and
to the hard work and the hands of the famers behind each
learn firsthand what makes Mercian Japan's best.
Embracing the true-tonature taste at Kurambon Winery by : Kwon Do hyeong (Exchange staff from Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea)
amanashi Prefecture, Japan's wine capital is home to 82 wineries, more wineries
than anywhere else in the country. From large wineries with national recognition to small wineries adored by enthusiasts the reason is clear as to why Yamanashi's
Governor proclaimed this Wine Prefecture just last August. Among this mass of wineries, I embarked on a journey out to one just a half an hour east of Kofu. A relatively small, yet magical place named Kurambon located in the winery rich area of Katsunuma known to locals as home to the Japanese grape. The word Kurambon rings nostalgic to me. It is said to be derived from the folktale "Yamanashi" by legendary Japanese storyteller Kenji Miyazawa. The people working at Kurambon Winery carry with them a deep sense of respect for Miyazawa's tale that told a moving story of coexistence between humans and nature, the limits of science, and the importance of compassion for others. Not only has it become the source of their winery name, but his ideologies are engraved into their company philosophy.
The history of Kurambon
Kurambon first opened the doors of its cellars more than 100 years ago, when in 1913 its founder Chosaku, began to brew wine with his own grapes. Later, in 1932 he joined forces with local grape farmers and began the“Tanaka Winery Union, ”nearly 30 years later Chosaku acquired all rights to the union and established the“Yamanashi Winery Ltd.”And in 2013 at the 100th anniversary of the wineries founding, they dedicated themselves to a policy of using only Japanese grapes. Then the following year, the company re-emerged under their current name Kurambon. Yamanashi's wine industry is truly survival of the fittest, and while it's often said that 10 years are enough to make or break a company, it is a true testament to Kurambon's quality, craftsmanship, and spirit that it has prospered for over a century.
Facilities of Kurambon
Kurambon Winery host a vineyard, a brewery, and a wine shop. The entire production process from grape harvesting to sale all happen within Kurambon's walls.
Come visit Kurambon, a winery that holds both people and nature dear.
Within a one-minute walk from the winery, you can reach the 2 hectares of Kurambon's vineyard. Here you can see where the vine cultivation magic of Kurambon wine happens, while enjoying the ephemeral scenery it creates during harvest season. The main varieties of Kurambon wine are Koshu, Chardonnay, and Muscat Bailey A.
The main house is a traditional Japanese architectural beauty with more than 130 years of history. To fans of the winery its traditional design reminiscent of the olden days, has become the symbol of Kurambon Winery and was even the model for the brands logo. The main building has a rest space, a wine library, and a tasting room. At the wine library, you are invited to freely read wine literature introducing the history of winemaking, and at the tasting room you can enjoy wine tasting or even purchase a bottle togo at their in house shop.
As soon as you enter the wine cellar, the deep aroma of wine excites your nose as it flows deep into your lungs. Here, it almost seems that time flows slowly: French oak barrels are lined up carefully while the wine ages away. Further in to the basement of the building, which was originally used as a storage for grapes, Kurambon's specialty wine is aged in a cool and mild atmosphere. Here, individual customers can buy and keep their wine for up to ten years. Unfortunately, at this moment the wine cellar is full, so they don't offer this service at the moment. It's an interesting thought that I could store my own bottle of wine here in such a perfect environment, maybe I'll check back in a couple of years for an opening.
Production and Sales at Kurambon
It is said that Kurambon Wine aims to make wine that have a truer to nature taste. Instead of wine being something forced into creation by humans and machines the craftsmen here embrace the idea of only assisting the grapes along their journey. Any damaged grapes are thoroughly removed and while it rests in the oak barrel it takes in the gentle oak flavor. There is ferments slowly, in the best natural environment and to protect its natural taste filtration is kept to a minimal. Furthermore, it is said that
winemaking using self-cultivated grapes that fermented
Kurambon is that for those who purchase a wine after the
together with the grape skin brings out a unique and natural
tour, the price of your tour is fully reimbursed. In addition to
taste. This is thanks to native yeast on the grape skin and
winery tours, they also hold grape harvesting experiences
the distinct characteristics of the soil.
once a year. To secure your spot - it is necessary to be at
Although about 30% of Kurambons grapes, are cultivated
the right time and to have a bit of luck. See Kurambon's
in their own vineyards a good 70% is outsourced to local
homepage for details.
grape farmers. In total they produce around 100,000 bottles of wine yearly. Although at the home vineyard they focus on only 3 varieties their entire variety extends to 20 different types, ranging from sweet to dry wines and even sparkling.
5. The future of Kurambon At Kurambon there is a total of only four staff members. It is only a testament to the hard work and brilliance of those
four staff members that the winery runs so well with so few
Kurambon's vast variety of wines is sold not only in
Japan but also exported overseas. In the case of domestic
The person who leads Kurambon wine now is Takahiko
sales, it is open at major tourist spots in Yamanashi such
Nozawa a young man in his forties and decendant of
as Katsunuma Budou no Oka, souvenir shops, famous
Chosaku, who studied grape cultivation and brewing in
restaurants, etc. You can also order directly via the internet
France. In particular, when studying in France, he was
or telephone. For those who would like to acquire a bottle
impressed by the natural style of wines produced in the
while overseas, they currently export to countries such as
Southwest of France, and in 2007 he switched his grape
England, France, and Germany, among others.
cultivation process to all-natural and organic farming. Filled
To its fans, the Kurambon wine feels much more intimate
with passion and obsession for preserving tradition, he is the
than the large winery brands, and that warm welcoming
true young winemaker of this era.
feeling it gives is probably part of the reason why people
"We will continue to make true-to-nature wines using
enjoy it so much. Among the diverse products of Kurambon,
grapes cultivated by natural farming," said Nozawa, full of
the most popular products are the slightly sweet Adiron and
pride. "We will work hard to make Kurambon into a brand
Niagara wines brewed in Koshu.
loved more and more by customers and eventually be recognized as some of the best of the best.”However,
4. Let's enjoy Kurambon
to keep the highest quality wine to customers who love
A wine tour is available at Kurambon Winery. The tour lasts
size. To him, it is not just a store or a company to make
about 30 to 40 minutes, and it gives you a chance to visit
money, but a craft he wishes to hone and an ideology of
the vineyards, the main house, the wine cellar, and a added
coexistence with nature and natural processes that he
wine-tasting experience in the end. This tour is available on
wishes to share with the world.
Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday, and can be held
Within each bottle of Kurambon wine is packed a warm
Kurambon, Nozawa does not wish to expand the winery
for up to 15 guests on a first-come-first-served basis with
and relaxed sense of freedom. The walls of its winery
telephone reservation. As compared to other wineries the
perhaps feel small yet it is a journey that leaves its guests
price of Kurambon's tour is quite inexpensive at, 500 yen per
feeling fulfilled. Here is a winery that welcomes you like
person and is certainly worth every yen.
a family with a smile always and a relaxing and charming
Of course, the main part of the tour is tasting. You can
environment. I for one hope to see this winery grow,
drink many varieties of wine bursting full of flavor for just
mastering the world of Japanese wine and lasting 200, 300,
500 yen. However, they enforce a strict zero tolerance
and even 1000 years into the future. On your way through
policy for drinking and driving. Another unique policy at
Yamanashi, how about a glass at Kurambon today?
Wine and Dine at SADOYA Restaurant Real D'or -Winery, Restaurant, and Wine Boutique by : McK Komai (ALT from Idaho, USA)
Wine and Dine
This well-known phrase can be traced back to Europe during medieval times, as meals served with wine were considered to be “lavish”. Whether you ‘Wine and Dine' with a close friend, a lover, or even alone—you can't deny the wine's ability to enhance the meal's flavors. Japan is often associated with sake, or rice-based alcohol. Consequently, the image of Japanese wine may be a difficult one to render. However, when deciding where to wine and dine, Yamanashi, Japan should be an obvious first-choice. Out of all 47 prefectures, Yamanashi Prefecture boasts the highest wine production numbers. Yamanashi was officially declared, “Wine Prefecture” by Governor Nagasaki in August of 2019. Accompanying this declaration, efforts and funding have been on the rise with the goal in mind of spreading the word about Yamanashi's delicious wine as a must-try—especially for tourists.
W hy ‘Wine and Dine' in Yamanashi?
When coming up against its daunting European competitors, Japan relies on Yamanashi for its vast acres of vineyards laced with juicy grapes and the wineries that transform them into corked bottles of exquisite wine. In fact, most award-winning Japanese wines are born from Yamanashi's wineries. In 2019's Japanese Wine Competition, eight of the twenty-one gold-titled wines were produced right here in Yamanashi. Luckily for me, I happen to be based in this beautiful Wine Prefecture, and ready to make the most of its scrupulous grapes and historical wineries.
C hoosing a Location Convenient for Me
That's right. I decided to embark on my own little ‘Wine and Dine' journey in Yamanashi. I wouldn't consider myself a wine connoisseur, so you could say I came into this journey with little-to-no experience under my belt. The one thing I am always told by Yamanashi residents is that I should start my journey in Koshu—the city home to the most vineyards and wineries in Yamanashi. These wineries have long-running histories and several joint restaurants which would make for great dining. Unfortunately, making a trip out to Koshu for an evening of wine and dining wasn't a reasonable option for me. Many people don't have access to the means of transit needed to make it out to the countryside and visit Koshu, so I wanted to find a winery located in the heart of the city.
SADOYA Restaurant Real D'or SADOYA Restaurant Real D'or is a restaurant inspired by French cuisine that's conveniently located in Yamanashi's capital city, Kofu. From the North Exit of Kofu Station, you'll reach the restaurant in a comfortable, five-minute walk. There are several signs you can see with“SADOYA”written clearly that help guide the way. As I was strolling along, I suddenly found myself in front of the gate to a small, French-themed village surrounded by lush greenery. SADOYA is not only a restaurant, but rather a renowned winery, restaurant, and wine boutique all in one. With a history stretching over 100 years, SADOYA is now a household name when it comes to wine. However, the restaurant I had reservations to visit, Real D'or, was just recently launched by SADOYA in 2013. Rather than going for the typical romantic setting̶one of my closest friends, Nicole, and I made the reservation for two. We both work just minutes away from the station, so the restaurant's convenient location worked out nicely for us. SADOYA's French village-like atmosphere swept us off our feet. Needless to say, we're both very intrigued by places that look like they came straight out of a Ghibli film. Actually, we spent a fair amount of time simply admiring and walking around the SADOYA vicinity before finally stepping foot in the restaurant, Real D'or. Our chills from the wintery air were quickly melted by the warm Christmas decorations that greeted us in the restaurant's lobby. A Christmas tree, ribbons, presents, and even a small Santa Claus figurine brought about our festive cheer. After being charmed by the décor and atmosphere, we were ready to sit down for dinner. Our seating was near the window, so we had a great view of the garden area, which was lined with intricate white chairs and a stone alter̶surprisingly enough, Real D'or often hosts wedding ceremonies and receptions here at their restaurant. The dining area was nice and quiet…despite every other table being occupied (it was a Wednesday night…!). According to the staff, Real D'or faces these high customer volumes especially during the fall and winter seasons. The customers ranged from families to intimate couples̶one couple was actually celebrating a birthday via the restaurant's special birthday course. I was a bit envious when I saw the birthday dessert come out from the kitchen topped with a sparkling candle. How romantic! It's not hard to imagine why many people choose this restaurant to celebrate special occasions. In general, the reputation of any restaurant highly depends on its staff's hospitality, or Omotenashi in Japanese. With a staff like Real D'or's, we felt like nothing short of royalty.
Let's Dig In Our course of choice, the Marseille Course, was filled with several unique, seasonal flavors. I ordered a Sommelier-picked,
wine-tasting course to accompany my dinner. Meanwhile, my companion for the evening, Nicole, chose to try her hand at Real D'or's non-alcohol drink selection. Our course
A Glass of Wine Fit for Each Meal —Leave it to the Sommelier
s t a r t e d o ff w i t h
Without a doubt, the atmosphere, food, and service were
a light seafood
all phenomenal, but I have to admit that the wine was what
dish: thinly sliced
really brought it all together for me. How does a restaurant,
who changes their course options to fit the season, select
wines that fit each unique course? Sommelier is a French
with some greens,
term for the wine steward(ess) of a restaurant who decides
these wine-meal pairings. To earn the title of Sommelier, you
must have extensive knowledge of both wines and cuisine̶
and served with
not to mention something that differentiates you from the
a sparkling wine
competitive wine market of Yamanashi. Ryosuke Ogura is
from the SADOYA
the name of Real D'or's Manager and Sommelier. When
asked what impression Mr. Ogura wished our meal to have
Dry Sparkling, which was a sweet, sparkling wine, was a nice
on us, he answered humbly,“I wish for you to enjoy the
choice to pair with the appetizer.
wine pairings of each course item in their own, unique way.
The next two wines, Horloge 2018 and Takayamamura
For other customers who have traveled here from outside
Chardonnay 2016, came with the second item of our course:
of the prefecture,
a simmered dish paired with a sweet broth. This warm dish
I want them to
was perfect for the winter weather, and full of nutritious
re m e m b e r t h e i r
ingredients: broccoli, olives, mushrooms, oysters, and some
red snapper. The two wines had similar yet very strong
SADOYA as one of
flavors̶their sour tastes went well with the sweetness of
the many charms
the broth. You can't go wrong with a classic like Chardonnay,
Kofu has to offer.”
but I preferred Horloge 2018 for its floral aroma. While waiting for our next dish, we enjoyed the bread and olive oil that came to our table. Two very different textures of bread were brought to us̶my favorite being the chewy sourdough̶Yum! Finally, it was time for our main dish. Nicole and I chose
Some Final Thoughts
to have wine beef stroganoff as the main dish of our course,
I can happily say that Real D'or thoroughly satisfied my
in place of the course's original main dish. Adjusting your
appetite and quenched my thirst. Allowing the customer
course menu like we did is possible if you're willing to
have Sommelier-picked wine-tasting options with their
spend a little extra to make it happen. At this point, I was
meal was genius̶I took full advantage of this by opting
three glasses of wine in to the meal, but my taste buds
for the wine-tasting course that offered four different
were still very much intact and ready for a bolder flavored
wines. SADOYA boasts numerous awards for its original
wine to accompany the main dish that I was about to cut
wines, notably the MonCherVin which brings in sales
into. My final glass served was a SADOYA classic, red wine
of over 100,000 bottles a year. SADOYA wines can be
dating back 70 years, Chateau Brillant Mur. You could call
purchased at the wine boutique conveniently located at
it the cherry on top, because it was the perfect choice that
the Kofu location I visited. Tours of the SADOYA winery
harmonized with the rich flavor of the beef. Aside from
are also available for reservation if you're interested
just the beef, our main dish also had an array of seasonal
in the winemaking process. The dining options, like
vegetables served with it. Altogether, delicious.
what we opted for, are very unique and require a lot of
At this point, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that Nicole and
preparation, so reservations need to be made at least
I were quite full. The final course items consisted of a light,
two days in advance. It's a closer option for those who
winter persimmon ice cream dessert along with a simple
live in the city, and you can easily hop on a train home
cup of coffee. My mouth is watering just from remembering
instead of driving if you decide to enjoy a glass of wine
it! Now, I must express my thanks to the chef of our lovely
or, you know, four. I mean, come on. We are in Japanese
course̶Merci, Mr. Hiroaki Mori!
wine country after all!
The Hands of a Farmer by : Fadly Agustimahir (CIR from Bandung, Indonesia)
udou wa kugatsu, budou wa kugatsu’ . In summer,
cultivation. One, is to make your own seedlings with grafting
you can hear a nice announcement like this on public
techniques. Or two, buy grafted vines from a producer.
buses in Yamanashi. It means,‘grapes in September,
Whichever you choose, there is no guarantee that the grafted
grapes in September’ . Maybe they want to remind you, and
vines will grow exactly as you please. So the only way to be
make sure you won't miss the grape season. You will never
certain is to plant a few vines on the decided area, then you
regret coming to Yamanashi in September.
have to manage them and reduce the vines periodically until
As the biggest producer of grapes in Japan, in 2019 Yamanashi
one or two vines of optimal condition remain. This process
produced 36,900 tons grapes equal to 21% of national grape
could take 4-5 years until the first harvest. Although depending
production. Yamanashi has a wide choice of grape varieties you
on the variety of the grape, grapevines will last until 30 years.
can enjoy as well. These include, Koshu, Kyoho, Delaware, Shine
Mr. Sugita works hard to take care of vines in every season. In
Muscat, Pione, Sunny Dolce, and many more. Along with being
winter, he has to give a treatments to the vines such as pruning,
the biggest grape producer, Yamanashi is also the biggest
fertilization, and fixing the wire harness that holds the branches
producer of wine in Japan. According to data published in
of the vines. Some vineyards even cover the vines with straw
2018, Yamanashi produced 5,189kL of wine that year, 31.2%
to prevent winter damages. When the spring comes, there are
of all the wine produced in Japan that year. Behind all these
even more things to do such as peeling the bark of a vine, and
numbers lie the callused hands of a farmer who worked hard
trimming new shoots and leaves.
to bring these grapes to fruition. For today's article I traveled to
But the busiest season starts from the end of spring until the
Asama Orchard in Fuefuki city, Yamanashi prefecture to meet Mr.
middle of autumn when the harvest season ends. Mr. Sugita
Sugita and asked him the challenges he faced as a grape farmer.
said when the season is coming, it is necessary to work from sunrise to sunset almost every day. Since his main produce
is table grapes, one of the toughest parts of his handiwork
Generally, there are two different ways to start your grape
select the grapes berries at the early stage and cut a few
is‘crafting’ the grape bunches. He and his workers have to
berries here and there, so the other grape berries will grow into
of all-you-can-eat fruit picking varies from 800-1,500 yen
a similar size and give the best shape and weight proportion.
depending on grape type and includes special discounts for
This‘crafting’method is different depending on grapes
varieties. Other than that, they will also cover each grape
While most of the grape picking customers of this orchard are
cluster with paper.
tourists, some of the grapes are sold directly to JA, a farming
This kind of labor cannot be done by machine, and has to be
co-op that is spread across Japan. Through JA as a wholesaler,
done entirely by hand one by one, so really takes a lot of time
grapes will be sold both within Japan or exported abroad.
and energy. But, all of these efforts are needed to make sure
Depending on the business style of the each vineyard, wine
that only the best of the best grapes reaches your table.
grape farmers usually sell their grapes to a winery or have their own in house. Most of the table grape farmers (farmers
who produce grapes made for eating as opposed to wine production) are selling their grapes through a wholesaler like JA
On the interview day, Asama Orchard was visited by a tourist
while other farmers sell it directly at their orchard or even online.
group from Indonesia. They come on two chartered bus tours.
Some of the farmers only work to fill a niche market to exclusive
Most of them had been to Japan before, but this was their first
fruit stores in Tokyo or other large cities, so it is hard to find their
time on a grape picking tour. They were amazed by the size
exclusive grapes in a regular supermarket. And it is no surprise
of the orchards and grape clusters hanging on its vines. After
when their grapes priced at around 10,000 yen or even more.
orchard staff gave them instructions etc., they began to pick the grapes and even eat them there while some of them focused on picking the best grapes to bring back home.
Roughly 70,000 tourists visit the orchards yearly. The fruits
It seems that nowadays many Japanese youth don't want to
picking season is from June to November, so on average, they
become a farmer let alone succeed the family farm. Some of
have 10,000 tourists each month. Admission fee for 40 minutes
the vineyard owners around here already started employing
last few years before.
foreign trainees under Te c h n i c a l I n t e r n
Becoming a farmer
Trainee Program. As
is not an easy thing.
m e n t i o n e d b e f o re ,
Maybe farming is not
most of the work in
grape farms are done
job’for many people. Including for himself
manually, so there
is a lot of work put into the teaching foreign trainees the.
at the first time. Right after graduated from university, he
However, foreign trainees can only work for 3-5 years at the
worked at private company producing canned food in Tokyo.
longest under current laws.
When he just started to get used with his work, his father
The other challenges are bad weather. During today's
called him to manage the family business.
global warming, sometimes unpredictable weather changes
He had a lot of hardships in the beginning, especially while
hit the area. One of the worst is heavy snow that hit the
learning grape cultivation during the extremely busy summer
Yamanashi and Kanto area in 2014. On that day, many
seasons. But as time passed, things grew familiar and he
greenhouses had collapsed under the weight of snow on
got used to the rhythm of being a farmer and began to enjoy
top of it and give a large loss between farmers. Since it
his new life. Now he works hard concentrating on how to run
is considered a natural disaster, the Government gives
and expand this family business.
subsidies to cover the losses.
After hearing of all the challenges he's faced and all the
On the other hand, sometimes there is bad weather that
hard work that he has put into each and every grapevine, I
doesn't count as a natural disaster but hits hard enough
can understand why fruit in Japan is so expensive. But don't
to reduce farmer's productivity. For example, the heavy
let the price tag scare you, the quality of Japanese produced
rainfalls this year. When grapes become exposed by too
fruit never ceases to amaze me. There is no instant grape,
many rainfalls, they are more vulnerable to things like mold
and they take no short cuts. Each and every fruit bears the
which can damage a crop. Unfortunately nature is one thing
result of the farmer's sheer dedication, hard work, and all
that is hard to fight. In the end, joining an income protection
the knowledge they've accumulated after all these years.
insurance could be a way to minimize risk against bad
Just come to Yamanashi during the grape season and try
weather. Mr. Sugita uses this insurance this year and was
the freshest, juiciest, and most delicious grapes in the nation
helps when harvested grapes this year are lower than the
right from farmer's hands.
A Dip in the Wine Baths of Isawa by : Nicole Oliver (CIR from New Jersey, USA)
twenties to late eighties. Although
Mrs. Hatta as she handed us a very
Yamanashi's souther n village of
intriguing set of pamphlets in English,
Hayakawa hosts the oldest Hotel in
Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
the world, history was certainly not
When looking through these particular
ate one January, during
scarce here. Looking back, perhaps
pamphlets, I nodded approvingly to
the 36th year of the Showa
that was the reason why there were so
Emperor, out from beneath
many elderly guests. To those guests,
“Well this, I certainly can do.”
the vineyards of Yamanashi's Isawa
the beautiful hotel perhaps reminded
After putting our belongings down in
district, burst a 46 ° C hot spring that
them of a much simpler time. But that
our hotel room and grabbing our Hatta
would change the area forever.
certainly wasn't the Hotel Hatta's only
original Yukata we took the elevator
Soon inns and hotels flooded the
up to the 7th floor of the hotel.
small town and at its peak, there were
Following the signs, we made it to our
over 100 different types of hot springs
first bath of the evening. Although we
offering accommodations in the area.
had not privately reserved the bath,
Each place, all ready for guests to
my friend and I were a bit happy to
wash their tiredness away after an
note that we were the only ones there.
exciting day of winery touring and fruit
Me, being a seasoned onsen-goer and
picking which the area had always
she, having visited a handful of onsen
been famous for.
as well, we as Americans still find it a
Fast forward nearly 60 years later,
bit embarrassing to strip down naked
a close friend and author of the Wine
in front of a group of women we've
and Dine article, McK, and I took the
During the brief amount of time I
never met. But the baths being the
15-minute walk from the now named
had with Mrs. Hatta and Mr. Kanno,
rewarding experience they are, had us
Isawa-Onsen Station (Onsen meaning
there was one thing that I noticed.
coming back every time.
Hot Spring) and came to check-in at
There was something kind in their
Per bath taking customs, we
one such hotel: Hotel Hatta. Meeting
eyes and a subtle spark that showed
stripped down completely and took
us at the door was Hotel Director
their passion for what they did and
nothing but a short face towel in with
Kanno, and soon the main proprietress
for where they had lived. The two
us (towels are rentable for a small
Mrs. Tomoko Hatta. As per good old
clearly love Yamanashi and are proud
fee). Then we went over to the little
Japanese hospitality, my friend and
to live here and wish very much that
shower seats inside of the bathroom.
I were served hot coffee as well as
each Hatta guest would check out
Although onsens and bathhouses
a glass of water as we exchanged
of their hotel with similar feelings in
generally supply soap, shampoo, and
business cards and sat down for our
their heart. As it had been mentioned
conditioner my friend having sensitive
brief interview on the hotel.
in this year's issue of the grapevine,
skin chose to bring her own. One of
time and time again, Yamanashi is
the benefits of having the bath all to
In the year 1968, just 7 years after
Japanese Wine Country. Many people
ourselves meant that we could chat
the hot springs of Isawa burst into
come here to tour the wineries, pluck
the night away.
existence, Hotel Hatta was formed by
from the grapevines and sip away at
It reminded me of a Japanese
the family of Mrs. Hatta's husband.
some of the most delicious wine in the
phrase I had heard now and then to
As time passed, she became the
country right at the foot of Mt. Fuji.
justify this unique system of bathing
main proprietress and her son is
But the people at Hotel Hatta
Hadaka no Tsukiai, often translated to
now training to take over the family
knew that frankly, wine isn't exactly
“naked communication”. A phrase
business as well. Looking around the
everyone's cup of tea: I myself, a non-
that somewhere along the lines was
lobby of the hotel gives you a good
drinker included. On top of that, in an
meant to imply that when naked, we
feel for the age and tradition it held for
area with dozens of hotels offering
are all equal and it makes it easier to
the last two generations. The retro-
the same hot springs, and the same
communicate with someone. And in my
style rug and furniture along with the
glasses of wine- Hatta decided to do
experience, all the friends I've gone to
Koi pond and outdoor garden are
something different.“We wanted to
Onsen with have become my closest.
symbols for holes like this that defined
add our own color to Isawa Onsen that
After washing ourselves until we
the Showa generation of the mid-
customers could enjoy,”explained
were sparkling clean, it was finally
time for the main event. We tied our
of bathing. Wine was so important to
up to five can rent out the private
hair up and placed the short towel on
the Romans that not only did it replace
wine bath adjacent to the public
top so that neither our hair nor the
water (as it was unsafe to drink at
on the 7th floor of Hotel Hatta with
short towel could touch the water.
the time) but it was also consciously
special discount plans available on
made available to people from all
their website. For those who are
Dipping one foot into the hot water
walks of life, from slaves to Emperors.
a bit shy in revealing their body to
was enough to tickle my senses, and
Because of this, it was often distilled
unknown people, or who just want to
soon I was all in. The color of the
so that they could still drink their fill
spend a more intimate time with their
water, the rejuvenation I felt every
without getting too inebriated.
significant other, this private wine bath
second I sat inside. Even McK, who
is highly recommended! This bath is
has sensitive skin, found the water
available for periods of 45 minutes,
was perfect for her. To be honest,
so you have plenty of time to relax by
since the moment we entered the
yourself or with your close friends and
room there was a sweet aroma very
family. After our soak, McK and I had
different from the normal mineral scent
something special in mind for the rest
found in most hot springs. And that
of our evening.
was because these baths aren't like
From 8 to 9 pm on designated days,
most hot springs at all. These were
according to Hotel Hatta's website, a
the wine baths of Isawa. And wow did
special guest only event is held in the
they feel amazing.
As I relaxed in the bath with my
first-floor lobby. During Hatta's Wain
The decorative grapevines on the
friend, chatting away in our little
to Ongaku no Yube event, for only one
ceiling paid a sweet homage to the
haven without end, I couldn't help but
coin (500¥) guests can enjoy all you
area's origins as did the Yamanashi
wonder what an impact a wine bath
can drink delicious Yamanashi wine
wine that we soaked ourselves away
could've possibly posed to the Roman
and calming jazz. Amongst the wines,
in. The bath itself was made of both
Bathhouses. Perhaps if the ancients
there is even a hotel Hatta original,
natural hot spring water as well as
had popularized wine baths centuries
which is highly recommended, as
wine essence. The result gently
ago, it could've been a worldwide
well as the Koshu originals. Since it
envelops your skin making you feel
phenomenon by now.
was so popular, I decided to have a
smooth and relaxed as you gazed
However, with the arrival of a
small sip. The gentle fragrance and
out at the beautiful cityscape before
vivacious group of old ladies, the
pleasant sourness that rested on your
you. Although wine is an alcoholic
private bath that wasn't at all reserved
tongue was enough to understand
beverage and would normally dry out
for me and my friend came to an end.
why it was such a critically acclaimed
your skin, the baths of Hotel Hatta
Thus, it was time to dry off, explore
wine, although one sip was enough
took out the alcohol and left in nothing
the Isawa area and grab a bite before
for me. But regardless of whether, or
but the sweet and healing properties
the time for our actual reserved wine
how much you plan on drinking, the
of the grapes. Just one year after
bath. About a 5 minute drive from the
overall ambiance of the jazz concert
Hatta opened the doors to their
hotel, we discovered a tiny hipster-
fresh out of a busy day of Onsen
wine baths, a French brand named
esque café hidden behind a brightly lit
Meguri was just enough to guide me
Caudalie emerged and focused their
family mart named Marimo Café. After
peacefully into my futon for the night.
products on the same science-backed
a much-needed stop there for some of
If at the end of your grape and wine-
the most delicious hot chocolate I've
filled travels, you find yourself looking
But as history serves, the French
probably had in Japan, we returned
for a unique way to relax and wash
weren't the only ones to love baths
to the hotel for our second round of
your tiredness away, the doors (and
and wine, nor were the Japanese.
baths) of hotel Hatta are always open
B e l i e v e i t o r n o t , R o m a n s w e re
One common hobby for Japanese
to welcome you!
exceedingly famous for their love
residents is a practice called Onsen-
of both and there have even been
Meguri which can be translated as
a multitude of Japanese films and
“Onsen hopping”. Hitting more than
animation theatrically exploring the
one bath in a day certainly gave that
two cultures' deep affection for the art
feeling. Upon reservation groups of
Festivals in Japanâ€™s Wine Country by : Diego Ramos (CIR from Minas Gerais, Brazil)
ă€€One simple way to respect and enjoy tradition in Japan is to attend a festival, known as a matsuri. A festival can be as big as millions of people gathering around a central Tokyo temple to celebrate the New Year, or as small as a neighborhood congregation in the countryside saying a prayer for a prosperous rice harvest. More and more, when it comes to celebrations of culture, food, music, and time-honored traditions, modern festivals in Japan are about exploring and discovery, or simply spending time with family and friends. ă€€In Yamanashi Prefecture, spending a gorgeous summer evening or autumn afternoon with a glass of wine among friends is increasingly defining local customs. Likewise, wine festivals are starting to take place almost every weekend. Although grapes have been grown in Yamanashi for ages, it has been peaches, plums, sake, and whiskey that have drawn connoisseurs and curious adventurers alike to this majestic Mount Fuji region. Japan, and Yamanashi in particular, is only recently becoming known for its excellence and award-winning wine. Only an hour and a half away from Tokyo, with Mt. Fuji on the horizon, the festival culture of Yamanashi is elevating the humble grape to the precipice of delicacy and indulgence.
The Grape Festival was in a big open area, lined with the tents and awnings of the festival booths, with plenty of room to mingle. In the center was a stage where local middle schools and community groups performed traditional dances in the style of yosakoi, as well as taiko drumming and musical as they performed. The dances continued until just after dark. Part of what made it so special was seeing the grandparents snacking on grapes and cheering for their school-aged grandchildren in the dances. There were plenty of white and purple grape juices for the kids, and the usual favorite snacks of festivalgoers: fried chicken, yakisoba, and German sausages. You could see the joy radiating off everyone's faces sharing in
the festival spirit.
he Katsunuma Grape Festival is a warm and welcoming
Throughout the day I had the chance
celebration of culture, tradition,
to talk to different wineries about their
grapes, and of course, wine - it's a
love for the craft and why their wine is so
celebration for the whole family! It
special. I was surprised to discover that
became famous in the community and
many of the local producers had travelled
has been a cornerstone of the autumn
to study winemaking in France before
season since 1955. Although Katsunuma
returning to Katsunuma to perfect their
is a small town of only 10,000 people, it
own vintages. One particular winemaker
is home to 33 of Japan's 300 wineries.
grew 10 different varieties of grapes
Everyone in the town comes together
himself just so he could control exactly
every October to welcome tourists and
how much sweetness he wanted from
visitors into this rich family tradition.
each grape in his wines (I was able to
On my winding, mountainous way
try the same crisp white wine from 2017,
to the 66th annual Katsunuma Grape
2018, and from 2019 made from Koshu
Festival, I couldn't help but notice how
grapes). To my inexpert tongue they
important grapes are to the Katsunuma
were all delicious, but I'm sure the true
community. Even the streetlamps and
sommeliers appreciated the opportunity
the bridges in town were shaped liked
to taste the subtle difference year by year
bunches of grapes! Once I arrived, I
and purchase their favorite year directly
met friendly faces young and old, and
from the winemaker himself. I learned
from far and wide. There were groups
that within the past 20 years, Japanese
of friends and families from all over
koshu wines have gained such prestige
Japan and foreign tourists from overseas
that they are often found on pairing
too – from Osaka, Okinawa, and even
menus at fine-dining restaurants in Paris.
Hokkaido. Most of the foreign visitors came from European countries such as
At the end of the day, once the
England, France, and Germany – and
sun had fallen, the Grape Festival
I met a few Brazilians, Russians, and
concluded with a fire ritual. A wooden
Americans too. Everyone was enjoying
pyre in the image of a Torii gate, the
gateway to the spirit world, is set
ablaze on the side of the mountain.
Ghibli film“Princess Mononoke,”you
“Muscat Bailey A” . There couldn't have
And in the tradition of most Japanese
may be surprised to know that the
been a more perfect fall combination in
festivals, an impressive fireworks
mountainous region and animals in
the entire winery tour!
display lights up the sky before
the film, such as the boar tribes, were
An important part of tourism in Japan
festivalgoers go home with their
inspired by Yamanashi Prefecture.
is the culture of omiyage. Omiyage are
souvenir snacks – grapes!
The boar soup is a perfect example of
souvenirs from places you travel or visit.
traditional foods matched to modern
If you visit another prefecture or a famous
In mid-November, just a month later,
tastes. It was rich and savory with
festival, it is most appropriate to bring
I decided to attend a different type of
autumn flavors and perfectly matched
back a box of small individually wrapped
festival event called‘Wine Tourism
a glass of Muscat Bailey A.
snacks, like mochi, biscuits, or cookies
Yamanashi'. It was a tour of local
Another wine I will never forget was
for your colleagues whom you share an
wineries in three nearby cities – a format
the“Orange Wine”at Lumière Winery.
office with. They represent small tokens
that's becoming more and more popular
It is called Orange Wine for its color,
of appreciation and respect. For close
for artisanal weekend festivals. If you
and is not to be confused with wine
family and friends however, if you visit
purchase the ticket and the wine glass,
made with oranges. Although more
wine country in Yamanashi Prefecture,
you can tour all the participating wineries,
similar in taste and color to white
a bottle of one of Japan's finest wines
the cost of transportation included, and
wines, the grapes are fermented with
is more appropriate. It is not the cost
taste as many wines as you care to try
the skin and seeds. Orange wine
of the bottle, but the story behind it
(unlimited)! I visited wineries in Kofu City,
has started to become popular in
– where the grapes were grown, how
the capital of Yamanashi Prefecture,
Yamanashi and is served in restaurants
they were carefully harvested, how the
Yamanashi City, and Fuefuki City.
paired with seafood dishes. It may
winemaker perfected its flavor from
If there is one thing I'm sure a foreign
even become more popular than rosé!
skills honed in France – along with the story of your special journey – that
traveler to Japan can appreciate it is
the meticulous planning to provide
During Wine Tourism Yamanashi,
makes a bottle of wine such a special
the most convenient and pleasant
the smell of homemade bread was
experience for festivalgoers as
everywhere! At the wineries, at the
possible. You will never have to worry
small stops along the way, and at the
If find yourself with the opportunity
about where to go, where to stand, or
transportation waiting areas, there were
to visit the Katsunuma Grape Festival
what to do because everything is well
breads, pastries, and homemade snacks
or Wine Tourism Yamanashi, it may just
thought out for the visitor's comfort. Of
for sale from small shops and stalls. The
be the chance you have been waiting
course, it helps to understand a little
vendors sold little packages of nuts and
for to either start enjoying wine, or to
Japanese, but even if you can't speak
dried fruits, and traditional snacks like
start wine tasting in an whole new way.
the language, you will still be able to
kaki (Japanese persimmons) which are
The festival atmosphere is of respect
enjoy the choose-your-own-adventure
commonly eaten in the fall. My favorite
for the craft and love of discovery –
style of a wine festival tour.
was a variation of hoshigaki – small kaki
not the pretentiousness that tends to
Each winery that I visited had its own
that are hung to dry in the sun. The one
follow more well-known institutions
special story and traditions; one such
I tried was semi-dried, and cut into little
around the world. You are invited to
winery in Fuefuki served its guests an
slices to look like a flower. I saved it to
learn, enjoy, and honor each tradition,
incredible boar soup to accompany the
match another wine that Yamanashi
and by participating, be part of its
wine. If you have ever seen the Studio
is famous for that I sampled called
For those who want to take a bottle home from one of the articles listed in this year’s Grapevine 2020 Edition, we recommend one of the following products.
YAMANASHI KOSHU (¥2,091)
CHATEAU BRILLANT MUR (¥2,750)
This crisp ‘Yamanashi Koshu’ white wine, made from Koshu green grapes, has beautiful but delicate citrus tones for a mild fruit flavor. The 2018 Chateau Mercian bottle is refreshing as an afternoon or dinnertime wine and is perfect for sipping in summer and all year round! Yamanashi Koshu is easy drinking with that lovely Koshu grape taste at the beginning and end of each sip.
For those in the mood for red wine, I recommend a bottle Chateau Mercian’s AIAKANE. This wine is a unique and well-designed mix between the neighboring Nagano prefectures Merlot and Yamanashi’s Muscat Bailey A. The taste of this wine is quite soft on the palette and due to its maturation in barrel it retains a nice scent which adds further to the wonder of this bottle. I recommend a glass if you have a chance.
This wine comes in white or red, and offers a rich yet classic flavor. I don’t eat seafood, so the red wine pairs perfectly with my beef-based dining preferences. Over 70 years have passed since i t s d e b u t , b u t t h e r e ’s good reason as to why this wine is still one of Sadoya’s top sellers.
Vitor Diniz Martins
Nicole Oliver nikoru.n
The Yamanashi Grapevine Global Tourism and Exchange Division Yamanashi Prefectural Government 1-6-1 Marunouchi, Kofu City Yamanashi Prefecture, 400-8501 Japan
Kwon Do hyeong
(Kwon Do hyeong)
Diego Ramos diegoram_os
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