Wines from the edge...
All great wine comes from a knife-edge, but Japanese winemakers have it sharper than most. In this extended archipelago of jagged mountains, winter snow and summer typhoons, the Japanese have been cultivating vines for at least one thousand years and have had a wine industry since the 1860s. Wine is made in 36 of Japan’s 43 prefectures.
All aspects of wine culture in Japan developed under the Meiji, the visionary dynasty of the 1800s. There are links and admiration for French wine culture. The drive for technical precision is very strong. As is the reverence and respect for creating a wine that tastes and looks beautiful.
A surprisingly wide range of wine grape varieties is grown in Japan, including European classics in favoured spots and hardy hybrids that can cope with the winters. But two varieties are especially Japanese in origin, association and style, and have been recognised since 2013 by the hugely influential International Organisation of Wine and Wine (OIV).
Apellations and Terroir
Japan is an heroic, marginal terroir from which to coax wine. But the prize is worth the effort. High altitude, volcanic soils, and sheltered micro-climates mean that - despite challenges - wine is made in nearly all of Japan's prefectures.