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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

wine production.

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.  In 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

grape cultivation.

“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.

Main house

 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.

Wine Cellar

 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

Wine production

 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

Wine sales

four staff members that the winery runs so well with so few

 Kurambon's vast variety of wines is sold not only in

staff members.

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,

Japanese horse

who changes their course options to fit the season, select

mackerel topped

wines that fit each unique course? Sommelier is a French

with some greens,

term for the wine steward(ess) of a restaurant who decides

garnished with

these wine-meal pairings. To earn the title of Sommelier, you

strawberry sauce,

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

experience at

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

small children.

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

considered a‘dream

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-

wine-based concept.

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 Japan’s Wine Country by : Diego Ramos (CIR from Minas Gerais, Brazil)

 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.  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

the grapes!

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

modern charm.

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.

Chateau Mercian


Chateau Mercian



AIAKANE (¥1,800)

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.

Editor Profile

McK Komai

Fadly Agustimahir



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

Hou Jie



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

TEL: +81 55-223-1435

For any questions, comments, or suggestions, contact us at : yamanashigrapevine@gmail.com Past editions of The Grapevine are available online at : www.osano-memorial.or.jp


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The Yamanashi Grapevine 2020 Issue 1  


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