Japan

Winegrowing in Japan began with the adoption of Western culture during the Meiji restoration in the second half of the 19th century in Yamanashi, although the Koshu variety had been grown there for over 1000 years.  Since the 1970s, the skill level of wine making increased with the emulation of Western hedging styles and development of specially cultivated insect resistant grape varieties from European strains.  Today, numerous wineries produce superior wines using only pure domestic cultivation, and began to receive good reviews internationally.

Surface : 1033 ha  Production : 43240hl  Consumption :  2 Mhl

Terroir

  • Soils :  all types.
  • Climate:  all types.  Heavy winter snowfalls and relatively cool summer in the northern island of Hokkaido, mild winter and hot, humid, heavy rainfall in summer in the southern island of Kyushu.
  • Main white grape varieties:  Koshu, Zenkoji, Chardonnay, Seibel, Muller-Thurgau, Kerner, Riesling, Semillon, Riesling Lion, Riesling Forte, Shinano Riesling,  Kai Blanc
  • Main red grape varieties: Muscat Bailey A, Black Queen, Yamabudo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zweigeltrebe, Suntory Noir, Kai Noir, Kiyomi, Yama Sauvignon

Main Wine Regions

Vineyards are spread all over Japan from Hokkaido in the North to Kyushu in the South.  To accommodate the differing climate in Japan varying hedging techniques are used.  In areas of high humidity during the summer, such as Yamagata, an elevated hedging technique is used to keep the fruit about 2-3 meters above the ground to allow ventilation.  In areas higher in the mountains, such as Tochigi, where good sunlight is at odds with the jagged terrain, winemakers have planted their hedges on steep hillsides both to receive a maximum of sunlight, as well as protect the vines against damage from heavy snowfall.

  • Hokkaido: Tokachi Wine, Ikeda / Furano Wine, Furano
  • Yamagata Prefecture: Tendo Wine, Tendo
  • Niigata Prefecture: Iwanohara Wine, Joetsu
  • Yamanashi Prefecture: Katsunuma Wine, Koshu
  • Nagano Prefecture:  Shinshu Wine, Shiojiri
  • Tochigi Prefecture: Nasu Wine, Nasushiobara
  • Kyoto Prefecture: Tanba Wine, Kyotanba
  • Hyogo Prefecture: Kobe Wine, Kobe
  • Miyazaki Prefecture: Aya Wine, Aya / Tsuno Wine, Tsuno

Legislation

"Mark of Origin" is a system of legal designation although there is no other nationwide organization of legal designation for wine produced in Japan.  However, independent self-governing municipal bodies, for instance in Nagano and Yamanashi, have begun systems of regional appellation.