Discovering Japanese Wine

While Asia is not known for its wine production, the centuries of European influence have, in fact, created wine regions since the late 1800s. Vineyards in Japan have been cultivating for over a century with French inspiration combined with the Japanese touch.

Japan’s Wine Regions

Vineyards and wineries exist from the north in Hokkaido all the way down the south in Miyazaki on the island of Kyushu. Japan’s main wine industry originated in Yamanashi, just north of Mt. Fuji, where the region grows it’s own local Koshu grapes aside from traditional varietals. Today, the Yamanashi region accounts for 40% of the country’s production with over 80 wineries in the area.

The country’s production creates wines such as Rieslings, Chardonnays, as well as Merlot and Cabernet blends. Its own Koshu wine has gained popularity in Asia and is best paired with Japanese cuisine.

Hanging grapes of Yamanashi. As you drive through the town, you’ll notice that grapes do not just grow on endless lands but also right in town and even in driveways, almost as if they are roof covers. The grapes are plump, fruitful, and uniquely Japanese


Wine Tours at Chateau Mercian

The best way to discover Japanese wine is through tours and tastings. As of today, most wineries that have tours conduct them in Japanese only. Some provide English brochures for the tour. Others, like Chateau Mercian, welcome English-speakers to follow along. While you may not be able to understand the wine leader, you are able to walk through the facilities and vineyards to see for yourself how these regions differ from the rest of the world.

After college, you learn to eat before drinking. Have a little bite at the Wine Cafe of Chateau Mercian. You can order this appetizer plate, pasta, soup, or simply bread to coat your stomach before wine tasting. You can also enjoy tasting portions and flights at the cafe
During the wine tour, you will watch a video about the region’s production and then see the French oak barrels of the visitor center facility. For English-speakers, take note that tours are conducted in Japanese only, but the visuals of the tour are still educational and interesting for the price of 1000 yen
After touring the barrels, you will then have your wine tasting. You will enjoy five of Chateau Mercian’s wines, including their Koshu wine and red blends. The tour leader is one of the winegrowers who will guide you how to taste with the notes about each wine
Following the tasting, you walk up to the Wine Museum and then to the vineyards to learn about the winery’s history and current-day production. You can even taste the grapes straight from the vine at the vineyard


Wine Tasting at Grace Wine

Not all wineries offer tours, however, they do offer wine tastings for all visitors. If you make the effort to journey to Yamanashi, Grace Winery is a must visit to taste the highest quality and one of the best wines in Japan as their wines continue to win Asia’s awards for top productions each year.

Aside from Grace Wine’s signature Koshu white wine, you must also try a taste of their Grace Toriibira Rouge red wine. The flavors will burst on your palate and have you craving a plate of local Japanese steak


Watch my video below featuring my day of wine tasting in Japan. And subscribe to my YouTube channel for my latest travel videos!


Addresses & Hours

Chateau Mercian
1425-1 Shimoiwasaki
Katsunuma-cho, Koshu-shi
Yamanashi, Japan
Visitor Center & Wine Cafe
9:30am to 5:30pm
Closed Tuesdays
Wine tours only in Japanese

Grace Wines
173 Katsunuma-cho, Koshu-shi
Yamanashi, Japan
9am to 4:30pm
Wine tastings only


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