• Rue du Vin Winery Nagano
    Japan,  Nagano,  Tourism

    Go North-West for Nagano, Wine Country

    So, you, wine lover, have landed in Japan. Looking at a map, you see that you have many options to quench your thirst. You can go south-east to Yamanashi, which makes wine from Koshu, that new grape you have been hearing more and more about. You can go north to Hokkaido, which makes elegant Pinot Noir. Or--and this is the recommended route--you can go north-west to Nagano.

  • Japan,  Nagano,  Winery

    St. Cousair Winery: Mixing tradition with experimentation

    Earlier this month, I visited St Cousair’s winery in Iizuna, Nagano. St Cousair is a family-owned gourmet food and beverage company headquartered in Nagano. From a single jar of apple jam the company now produces fruit syrups and butters, ciders and, of course, wine. It has over 100 stores across Japan and recently expanded into Oregon in the United States.

  • Japan,  Tourism

    Japan Wine Tourism Wish List

    hese days when I travel I go to places with wine--or I seek out wine in the places I go. I typically go for the standard tasting and tour, but some wine regions and wineries have embraced wine tourism and offer luxury accommodations, high-end dining and even spa treatments.

  • Japan

    Wine of North Eastern Japan

    North Eastern Japan has been making wine for longer than you would expect and it is pretty interesting stuff. I recently had the chance to attend a tasting of wines from North Eastern Japan. North Eastern Japan is the top part of Honshu, the main island in Japan. It covers six prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyazaki, Yamagata and Fukushima. All six prefectures produce wine. What I found most surprising is that North Eastern Japan has produced wine for quite some time… Yamagata in particular has…

  • Japan,  Nagano

    Nagano Wine in a Word? Diverse

    Last week, I attended the second class of a course on Japanese wine sponsored by the Japanese Wine Association. The topic was Nagano wine. The take away? Nagano’s climate and topography allow the prefecture to produce a diverse range of wine based on grape and style. This along with improved vineyard and winemaking know-how and increased interest in Japanese wine domestically and internationally makes Nagano a wine region to watch out for. Nagano has low annual rainfall The greatest critique of Japan as a wine…

  • Japan,  Yamanashi

    Koshu: A Flight of Styles

    I recently tasted three 100% koshu varietal wines from Yamanashi prefecture each made in a different style. Here are my notes: Sur Lie Koshu “Sur lie” is a French term meaning “on the lees.” It refers to the predominantly white winemaking technique of allowing the wine to remain in contact with lees, or dead yeast cells, for a period of time after fermentation finishes. The purpose is to increase a wine’s flavour and texture. This technique is increasingly used in making koshu wine. Koshu can…

  • Ferocious Focus,  Grape Cultivation,  Japan,  Nagano,  Winery

    Trellis: Japan Vineyards Get Smart with Smart-Dyson

    Following up on Ferocious Focus: Trellis Systems, I will introduce the trellis system that Kusunoki Winery, a winery located in Suzaka, Nagano in Japan uses. But before that, let’s discuss some of the environmental factors that Kusunoki Winery considered when choosing its trellis system. The main factors are fertile soil and wet weather, which together cause rapid vine growth, or high vigor. Fertile Soil According to the Kusunoki Winery website, the winery is located on an alluvial fan called the Hitakihara. An alluvial fan is…

  • Grape Cultivation,  Japan

    Muscat Bailey A: Another Japanese Wine Grape

    You have probably heard about Koshu wine made from the native Japanese grape variety of the same name. This light and crisp wine is increasingly winning the hearts of international wine critics (click here for a great article from The Drinks Business). That is a great development for Japanese wine. But, Japan has more “native” grapes to offer. One that deserves attention is Muscat Bailey A. Muscat Bailey A (photo credit: Yamada, Masahiko and Akihiko Sato, “Advances in table grape breeding in Japan,” Breed Sci. 2016 Jan;…

  • Japan,  Nagano,  Tourism,  Winery

    Tourism: Harvest at Rue du Vin

    I recently participated in my first harvest. It was at the Rue de Vin winery in Tomi, Nagano on one of those perfect days that people imagine wine harvests are like–sun, crisp air and fall colors. While I had always viewed participating in a harvest as work, I realized that it is a great form of tourism. There were about fifteen of us, all volunteers, from Tokyo, Nagano and other nearby prefectures. There were couples, friend groups and a family with two small children. All,…

  • Japan,  Nagano

    Critics Love Japanese Wine, But What About the Domestic Market?

    Some wines can, with a little exposure and patience, change, surprise and delight. Japanese wine today is certainly surprising and delighting western, notably United Kingdom, critics and other wine industry professionals. For example, Japanese wine made from Koshu grapes has received international recognition. Several of these wines, such as those from Grace Winery in Yamanashi prefecture, have won awards at global competitions. There are also an increasing number of masters of wine and critics visiting Japanese wine regions and writing back home about their finds.…