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.

Nagano wine region, Japan (1) - Kido Winery

Akihito Kida, Kida Wines

This was a good start to my visits in Nagano prefecture, Japan. Akihito Kido was born in Aichi prefecture, and he studied winemaking and viticulture at the University of Yamanashi. He went there because he wanted to make wine, but hadn’t decided at that stage whether or not he’d establish his […]

Japan: an overview of Japanese wine, and why we should be interested

A tribute to local wine at Shiojiri station in the Nagano region

I’m in Japan. The purpose of this trip is to explore Nagano, which is one of the three main Japanese wine regions. Some perspective on the Japanese wine scene. Winegrowing started here 140 years ago under the strategy of the Meiji government (the Meiji […]

Great wines at Hibana, a natural wine bar in Tokyo

Last night I arrived in Tokyo and headed out to Hibana (3F Third Halcyon, 3-6 Araki Cho, Shinyinku-ku, Tokyo 160-0007). It’s a relatively new natural wine bar run by Atsushi Nagashima, who was previously a sommelier at an Italian restaurant. We ate small plates and he served us a succession of Italian wines, all of […]

Visiting two excellent sake producers

On my recent Japanese trip I had a chance to visit two high-end artisanal sake breweries. It was really interesting, especially coming from a wine background, to see how sake is made.

Rice at various degrees of polishing

The sake making process begins with the polishing of rice. The amount of material removed is expressed in […]

Japan eating: Omi beef sukiyaki at Restaurant Moroshima

Omi beef, thinly sliced

Another great meal in Japan; another stop in this great gastronomic journey. This time, Omi beef sukiyaki at Restaurant Morishima, in Omi-hachaman in the Shiga prefecture not far from Kyoto.

Omi beef sashimi

This is a restaurant devoted to Omi beef. This is one of the top three types of Wagyu beef, […]