Having Yamanashi’s wine in your everyday life Home of Japanese wine shows how you can casually enjoy
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
“Japanese wine” has been highly rated both inside and outside of Japan these days. One of the reasons why the quality of Japanese wine has improved is that the winemakers have been changing.
Mr. Ryo Maeshima, a winemaker of a family run business “Alps Wine”, is an alcohol and cooking enthusiast. He thinks about ideal wine, imagining like “I want to make this kind of wine” or “I want to make wine that goes well with this kind of bar snack”.
The more you eat, the more you want to drink. The more you drink, the more you want to eat. Wine Mr. Maeshima makes always compliments food.
Alps Wine shows us that wine from this area is easy drinking and approachable.
Mr. Ryo Maeshima is the chief winemaker of Alps Wine, which was founded by his grandfather, Fukuhei Maeshima. Wines he has worked on have won awards and have been highly rated not only in Japan but also overseas. He’s currently working to make “clean wine” by removing unnecessary things added to wine. He likes cooking for his children and family trying different recipes and plating techniques and he also enjoys drinking with his meals.
Alps Wine Co.,Ltd Official Website: http://www.alpswine.co.jp/
Mr. Maeshima’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ryo.maeshima
A story about grandpa who loved alcohol
Yamanashi Prefecture is home of wine making in Japan.
Especially the Kyoutou region which is the main production area attracting wine enthusiasts. There are a lot of vineyards spread across the region and you can find a number of both big and small wineries here.
“Our winery is a family run business. My father is the third generation. The founder is my grandpa and his name is Fukuhei. Back then people in the community used to work together and run a wine making business but when they were facing financial difficulties, Grandpa Fukuhei took over the business and that’s the start of ‘Alps Wine’. He apparently LOVED alcohol.”
Grandpa Fukuhei didn’t have a proper training in a winery or anything. Wine making was just part of his life and it was more of a custom of the community. Grandpa Fukuhei learned how to make wine by talking to many different people and helping them with their wine making.
Back then, the Maeshima family used to run a wholesale business dealing rice, fertilizers, chicken farming, silkworms and so on. The facility, which is now a winery, was once a chicken farm.
Although having 24 years of experience in wine making, things don’t always turn out as you expect.
Mr. Maeshima started helping with wine making when he was a child and it’s been 24 years since he became a wine maker. We ask him what is an interesting part of the job as a wine maker and he falls to thinking.
“Things don’t always turn out as you expect, you know.”
He’s won awards both in Japan and overseas and he’s wowed gourmets with his wine. He has so many certificates and trophies of the awards he won that there’s not enough space in his shop to put them all up anymore, rather they’re piling up. Objectively speaking, Alps Wine’s wine has been highly rated and they are so tasty that once you open a bottle, you would finish it before you know it.
However, what Mr. Maeshima’s aiming for is still far way.
“What I’m aiming for is clean wine which has no negative element. Get rid of all the waste and bring out the best of grapes in the making. Wine that ages well as time goes by. That’s what I want to make.”
We hear that wine, which is made without unnecessary things being added, is a kind that lasts for years.
“You can’t just remove things blindly. With Japanese grapes, which originate from a kind that is not suited for wine making, my ideal wine is something that fully brings out the potential of the grapes such as scent, flavor and acidity. I’m still far from being satisfied.”
“Japaneseness” you taste in wine made in Japan
Some wine enthusiasts say, “In wine, you can taste the characteristics of the production area.” If so, what kind of wine is “Fuefuki-city-like”?
“For example, you get a subtle peach-like flavor in ‘Koshu’ wine”, says Mr. Maeshima. If you want to find out if it’s true, you’ve got to visit here and try it yourself!
So, Japanese wine has been a trend but nowadays it’s not too much to say that it’s become a staple in wine industry. Japanese wine has impressed a lot of people and has kept putting smiles on people’s faces. Mr. Maeshima describes Japanese wine to be “the best wine that goes well with Japanese style home cooking”.
“For example, when you make a hamburg steak in Japan, it is Japanese food in my opinion. The same goes for wine. Wine came from overseas but wine made in Japan is ‘Japanese’. Making wine that’s rooted in Japan is a way to go, you don’t have to copy what they make overseas I think.”
Wine made by Alps Wine has been highly recognized as “Japanese white wine” in competitions overseas. The wine that reflects the land and people’s life in the production area in its taste… Such wine might be the future of wine.
What kind of wine can be made here in this area? Mr. Maeshima continues his challenge to make his ideal wine through trial and error.
Which wine should I drink today?
There are apparently more than 80 wineries, large and small, in Yamanashi Prefecture. In such an environment surrounded with wine, it feels like a waste when you’re too bounded by rules such as “the combination of this and this is good” or “the temperature should be kept at this”.
“When you bring a bottle home, that’s for you to drink at home right? If so, I want you to just take it easy and enjoy it without caring too much about rules and so on. There are these combinations of food and wine called ‘mariage’ but it’s also fun to try out different things and find your best combination yourself.
I think we should bring wine into our life casually, like ‘Why don’t I start off with champagne instead of beer today?’, you know.”
When you try different kinds of wine, you’ll be wowed at how tasty they are and soon enough you’ll be a fan of Yamanashi’s wine. There are countless combinations you can try but which one will capture your palate?
Why don’t you start a long journey of wine to find “the one”?