Wine is not the first thing tourists think about when they visit Japan, in fact not only can they produce some of the world’s best tasting beer but they can also make high-quality wines that even won a gold medal in an international wine competition that was held in France.
Winemaking started during the 19th century in Japan and now it is being produced in various regions in the country. Winemakers in Japan traditionally use native grape varieties like a Muscat Bailey which is a red fruit that has a full-bodied node with a delicious cherry sweetness, and Koshu which is a light grape that has floral notes that is somehow similar to a Chardonnay. Today, there are over two hundred wineries throughout Japan and we are here to give you some information if you plan to have a Japanese wine tour.
Wine Regions in Japan
From Hokkaido all the way down to Miyazaki, you can find several vineyards and wineries but Japan’s main wine industry can be found in Yamanashi, just north of Mt. Fuji. And today, Yamanashi contributes about forty percent of the Japan wine production with over 80 wineries in the region. Katsunuma is the famous region in Yamanashi and it is a famous place where peaches, plums, and grapes are grown. There are a total of thirty-one, large and small, in Katsunuma and it is where almost twenty-seven percent of Japanese wine is produced. Japan produces wines like Chardonnays, Merlot, Cabernet, and Rieslings. But their very own Koshu wine is slowly gaining popularity throughout Asia and they say that it is best paired with Japanese cuisine.
Chateau Mercian – They explain the entire process of winemaking in Chateau Mercian and while most of the wineries in Japan conduct an all Japanese wine tour and provide English brochures for the tour, Chateau Mercian allows non-Japanese speakers to follow the tour. Even if you don’t understand what the leader is saying, you will still be able to see their facilities and vineyards for yourself.
Grace Wine – Not all wineries in Japan offers wine tours but they offer wine tastings for all tourist just like Grace Winery. This is a must visit winery in Japan because you will get to taste one of the best and highest quality wines in the country. The wine that Grace Winery produce continues to win top awards in Asia each year.
Nakaizu Winery Hills – Located deep in the hills of Izu Peninsula in Shizouka, Nakaizu Winery Hills is a quaint winery that is owned and operated by Shidax Corporation, a company in Japan that is best known for their chain of karaoke joints. The winery has a faux chateau and a tranquil setting that is overlooking its lush vineyards. Nakaizu Winery Hills offers a terrace cafeteria, restaurant, a wine-tasting room, shops, and even a barbecue area. The winery produces a total of twelve variety of wines including Merlot, Riesling, and Chardonnay.
Tomi No Oka Winery –Also located in Yamanashi, Tomi No Oka Winery is owned by Suntory a brewing and distilling company that is famous in Japan. It is one of Japan’s finest wineries and it always produces award-winning wines. It is founded in 1909 and it was originally a member of the Koshu of Japan Wine Organization which back then aims to promote and improve the quality of the Koshu grape. Tomo No Oka offers tours at their wine cellar and vineyards and after that, you can enjoy a glass or six of their most delicious wines which are made with one hundred percent domestic grapes.
Coco Farm and Winery –Located just north of Tokyo, Coco Farm and Winery was established in 1909 to be a rehabilitation center for junior high school students who have cognitive disabilities. As part of their program, students cleared the mountain by hand and cultivated an estimated six hundred young vines. These students were thought wine-making in California and started to produce and harvest their crops from a tiny cottage that is located in the foot of the mountain. Today, the vineyard employs a total of one hundred and fifty disabled workers. The winery offers a tour of their vineyards and after then you can taste their selection of wine while you’re listening to live music.
Honda Winery – Honda Winery is located in Fukushima at the foot of Mount Bandai and it is one of the country’s smallest vineyards. Honda winery is known for its unusual techniques of maturing and fermenting their wine where they use 23-liter glass barrels instead of the traditional wooden tank. They offer tours and tastings and they allow the tourist to turn the fruit into wine. However, before visiting this winery, you must make a reservation during harvest season so that they can ferment fruit and turn it into a unique wine for you.
These are the information and tips we can give you if you are planning to have a Japanese wine tour. We hope we helped you in finding another great adventure in Japan. What are you waiting for? Book those flights, pack your bags, and have a sip of authentic Japanese wine.