Nagano region, Japan (11) Sun Sun Estate

Sun Sun is the vineyard project of a company called Sun Vision, who own a residence for elderly people in Shioji City. The story of how the vineyard began is a slightly unusual one, and as far as I can make out, this is how it goes. The mayor of the city approached Sun Vision […]

Nagano region, Japan (10) Vino della Gatta

Vino Della Gatta is a cat-obsessed winery and restaurant, owned by Atsuko Narusawa (centre, in picture below). The winery here is new – it was established last year. In the past the wines were made at two custom crush facilities. There are seven vineyard blocks, totalling 3 hectares, and each is named after a cat.

The winemaker […]

Nagano region, Japan (9) Izutsu Winery

Based in Shiojiri, Izutsu Winery is, by Nagano standards, quite a big operation. This is part of the Kikyogahara Wine Valley, which is the oldest wine region in Nagano, with over 100 years history. The first winery licence in Nagano was granted in 1872, and in 1890 grapes were grown here: these were the labrusca […]

Nagano region, Japan (8) Northern Alps Vineyards

I head to Omachi, in the north of Nagano Prefecture, in the Nihon Alps wine region. It’s decidedly alpine here, and we’re fringed by mountains, and the vineyard is covered by a blanket of snow. I’m here to visit Masaki Wakabayashi, who established his small winery, Northern Alps Vineyards, back in 2008.

He’s from here, and […]

Nagano region, Japan (7) Azumino Winery

One of the most beautifully situated wineries in Nagano, Azumino winery was established in 2007 in the Nihon Alps wine valley, in the shadow of the northern alps. Here, on a bright, bracing winter’s day, I met with Akira Kato (chief winemaker) and Kentaro Furukawa (viticulturist).

Akira and Kentaro

The winery is owned by Kashiyama, a […]

Nagano region, Japan (6) Funky Château

Toyohiko (Toyo) and Micchi Kanehashi are running one of the top wineries in Nagano: Funky Château, in Aoki Village. They were working in Tokyo – Toyo as a music producer, making tunes for commercials and movie scores, and Micchi as an orthopaedist. But they loved wine, and one day wanted to make their own. They […]

Nagano region, Japan (5) Cave Hatano

Nobutaka Hatano started his career as a chef, and he fell into winemaking almost by accident. He applied for the chefs job at Villa d’Est in Nagano, but there were too many applicants, and he was instead offered a job in the winery. At the time, he had a low regard for Japanese wine. ‘I […]

Nagano region, Japan (4) Rue de Vin

Hideaki Koyami is the man behind Rue de Vin. He began working in Yamanashi 20 years ago. Before that he was employed by an electric company. In 2006 he moved to Tomi, and initially he planted Chardonnay on abandoned land. His vineyard area has grown as he’s taken over new land that was once fruit […]

Nagano region, Japan (3) a tasting at Tomi Wine Chapel


In Tomi, there’s a wine bar and tasting room where you can sample many different Nagano Wines. It’s great to have a wine-focused place like this in town. We had lunch there and tried six Chardonnays and four reds. Here are my notes:

Wa Yawata Chardonnay 2017 Nagano, Japan
From Chikuma City. Warmer region, 378 m altitude. […]

Nagano region, Japan (2) Gio Hills

The first winery visit of this year’s Nagano tour was at Gio Hills winery, which is owned by the Tomioka family: Masaki and his wife Yoko, and their winemaker son Hayato. They also own the fabulous riyokan Nakadana-Sou which I stayed at the previous night.

Masaki and Hayato Tomioka

Gio Hills started to grow vines in […]