Nagano Wine Region: grand tasting and overall impressions

This was a chance to taste 28 of the leading wines from Nagano prefecture, which is one of the three main Japanese wine regions, and along with Hokkaido, is the one generating the most interest at the moment. This line-up reflects the varietal mix among the better producers (there are quite a few less expensive […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (10) - Shinshu Takayama Winery

The Takayama winery is an interesting project: it’s a collaboration between local vineyard owners (so in effect, a small co-op), with winemaker Eiichi Takano at the helm. He’s worked previously for Mercian, and has also experience in France. We visited with him and also Kazuaki Wajui, who is the director/president.

Eiichi and Kazuaki

The impressive winery […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (9) - Cantina Riezo

Yasuyuki Yumoto (above) is inspired by Italy. He has a lovely small winery and vineyard in the northern part of Nagano prefecture, and he decided that this would be a great place for northern Italian varieties. And he prefers reds to whites, so selected Dolcetto and Barbera as his key grapes. He also has Merlot, […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (8) - Votano Wine

Tsubota Mitsuhiro (above) was inspired by Barolo to start making wine: that’s a good starting point, I guess. He began his vineyard in 2001, and now has 1.3 hectares on one of the lower terraces in the Kikyougahara region with stony, alluvial soils. The vineyards are beautifully maintained, with a mix of pergola and vertical […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (7) - Villa d'Est Garden Farm and Winery

Toyoo Tamamura

Villa d’Est Garden Farm and Winery is the project of Toyoo Tamamura, who is an artist and a writer. He moved here in 1992 and initially just planted a small vineyard so he could make wines for his own consumption. It’s a beautiful spot, high up in the hills at 850 metres altitude, […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (6) - Manns Wines Komoro Winery

Manns wines is owned by soy sauce producer Kikkoman, and there are two sites. This, the Komoro Winery, is where the proper Japan wines (the legal term for wines made solely from Japanese-grown grapes) are produced, including the prestige Solaris range. The other site is the Katsunuma Winery in Yamanashi, where some cheaper wines are […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (5) - Obusé Winery, Domaine Sogga

This is one of Nagano’s best producers. Domaine Sogga, also known as Obusé Winery, is based in Obusé and is run by Akihiko Soga (just the one ‘g’ in his name, but two in the domaine’s).

Akihiko Soga in one of his vineyards

Akihiko is clearly talented, and also nicely quirky. The winery is an old […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (4) - Kusunoki Winery

Shigeyuki Kusunoki

Shigeyuki Kusunoki started his vineyard in 2004, and then built his winery in 2011. This is a second career for Shigeyuki, who was a salary man for 20 years working in aircraft leasing. But he got bitten by the wine bug and decided to move back to his home town to make wine. […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (3) - Hyashi Nouen

Hayashi Nouen is one of the big players in the Nagano region. Founded in 1911, they have 45 hectares of vines of their own and contract a further 30. In total, the production is 800 000 bottles. Their brand name is Goichi.

This 60-year old Merlot vine is the oldest Merlot in Japan

One of the […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (2) - Domaine Nakajima

Yutaka Nakajima was studying at chef school when he came across wine. He’s a big fan of natural wine, and also has a strong affection for Alsace. He has experience working in the Loire and Baden (Germany), and in 2011 he decided to plant a vineyard in Tomi, Nagano. The small winery followed in 2014.