It used to be that for really good wine, you had to go to France. But nowadays, wine making technology has advanced to so far that you can find the highest quality wine all over the world. Here in Japan, Yamanashi Prefecture is renown for its wine production. But as the climate changes, Nagano's grape fields are increasingly producing world class wine grapes. And a handful of local winemakers are producing wine that rivals that of France.
The other day, I visited one such winemaker, Kusonoki Winery in Suzaka, northeast of Nagano City. Kusunoki-san studied Oenology and Viticulture in Australia, and in talking with him, his enthusiasm for really good wine was evident. He graciously let me sample some of his whites and reds. That was quite a luxury, as their prices are in the 2 to 3 thousand yen range, with at least one bottle priced close to 5,000 yen.
I asked Kusunoki-san what region's wine he likes the best. He replied that he isn't trying to reproduce any one wine. Instead, growing from the nutrients in his fields here in Suzuka, in Northern Nagano's climate, his grapes know what type of wine they want to become, and he considers it his job to assist them in that process.
Quite a humble yet amazing concept!
Here at Kamesei Ryokan, we currently offer two inexpensive Nagano wines as well as one of my favorites, a Washington State cabernet savignon. But it is my hope to slowly make Kamesei Ryokan into an inn where guests can enjoy fine wine. We are looking at offering such from the Kusonoki Winery in the near future. Stay tuned!
楠ワイナリー Kusunoki Winery
Note: Kusunoki-san's blog is bilingual Japanese and English.