‟Meant to be”-Yamanashi's wine & wine culture Winery that makes approachable wine for every occasion
Winemaking in Yamanashi “necessarily” started because “Koshu (grape)* has been grown here” as they say. Monde Shuzo is a winery in Fuefuki City that keeps evolving with the needs of the times. They have an adjoining factory, which is uncommon for wineries. They keep challenging themselves in accordance with the times “thinking for wine drinkers” and continue to make wine that bring joy to the table.
*Koshu … A white grape variety unique to Yamanashi Prefecture, which has been grown locally for a very long time.
Monde Shuzo (Monde Winery)
Isamu Takeuchi, Manager of Sales Division I Azuma Mizukami, Head winemaker, Manufacturing Division
Monde Shuzo is a community-based winery in Fuefuki City that has been evolving since it first opened its doors in 1952. They produce various kinds of products packed with Yamanashi’s charms including wine, liqueur, brandy, soft drink, etc. What’s especially unique about this winery is that they produce and sell canned wine, which they started about 10 years ago, as well as the fact that they offer a tour of the factory where they bottle and can wine. “We aim not only to make and deliver tasty wine, but also to contribute to Fuefuki City as one of its tourist attractions”, says the head winemaker.
Area where wine has been always part of people’s everyday life since old times
“They started making wine simply because the Koshu was grown here, rather than they wanted to make it. Yamanashi and wine are just ‘meant to be’. Winemaking in Yamanashi just necessarily started I think”, says Mr. Azuma Mizukami, the head winemaker of Monde Shuzo.
Mr. Mizukami enjoys wine every day at home and his love for wine runs deep. He’s well versed in not only winemaking but also grape cultivation and tasting. He polished up his knowledge by studying viticulture and enology at University of Yamanashi, where you can learn deeply about wine with the curriculum created following that of University of Bordeaux located in the world-famous wine region of Bordeaux in France.
“I went to classes after work. For Fuefuki City, wine is one of the important industries that vitalize the local community. I thought if I get involved in that, I wanted to make something great.”
Wine is one of the typical local industries we have here in Yamanashi along with flowers, fruit and gems. When it comes to wine, Yamanashi has not only the highest amount of production but also the highest amount of consumption in Japan, which shows how people in Yamanashi have a close relationship with wine.
“Pouring some wine in a yunomi* teacup from a 1-sho bottle* and drinking it is the Yamanashi style. A long time ago, people were making wine in order to preserve grapes and that’s how winemaking started locally. For people in Yamanashi Prefecture, wine is part of their everyday life and you can say that it’s also part of their culture.”
*1-sho bottle … A 1.8 liter bottle commonly used in Japan, which was originally made for sake
*Yunomi … A Japanese teacup without a handle
60,000 cans per day. Demand for canned wine and a factory tour
At Monde Shuzo’s factory, they produce about 60,000 cans of wine per day. “Canned wine” which can be often found at convenience stores, supermarkets and kiosks at train stations, etc. were first introduced by Monde Shuzo about 10 years ago.
“The reason why we decided to make canned wine is because we wanted to make wine more casual and approachable. Bottles are hard to throw away and heavy. On the other hand, cans are very casual and give an environmentally friendly impression. Cans are easier to pick up, aren’t they?” Mr. Isamu Takeuchi, the sales manager tells us from a marketing point of view.
“The way people drink wine changes by having it in a can. With canned wine, there would be a broader range of situations where you can have wine compared to bottled wine. People sometimes ask if there is any change to the taste of wine when it’s canned but understanding the characteristics of cans, we’ve devised a way to produce good quality wine in a can that taste the same as bottled wine”, says Mr. Mizukami.
There has been a steady growth in sales of canned wine since its launch and they are receiving commissions from overseas these days as well.
“We receive many inquiries about sparkling wine especially. Since canned wine is more casual and approachable, I feel there’s more and more demand for it. What we must not forget is food security and safety as well as quality control. We have been certified to ISO 22000*, which is rare for a winery to achieve.”
*ISO 22000 … An international agreement on food safety management system
“We offer a factory tour to all our visitors and it’s a popular activity which has been well-received by most of our customers. We operate bottling and canning production lines daily, which you don’t see at other wineries. That’s what’s unique about us”, Mr. Takeuchi tells us about the charms of their winery.
At Monde Shuzo, they’re currently hosting a collaborative event with “100 Sleeping Princes & the Kingdom of Dreams”, which is one of the most talked about app games on social media. A lot of the game users can be seen here scanning QR codes with their phones in order to get the original in-game perks.
Monde Shuzo hosts an innovative event with a sense of fun like this catering for a wide range of customers. Mr. Takeuchi, who was in charge of the event, tells us, “I think our company’s previous year’s results were highly evaluated and this travel agency invited us to join in the event. We achieved excellent results last year, where we had an increase in sales and also had customers who travelled a long distance by train to visit our winery.”
As they welcome customers every day, they put a lot of effort into preparation for the event in order to make as many customers happy as possible, such as placing cutouts and banners and even paying attention to placement of posters.
Adding wine to the table at home… Monde Shuzo’s wish
Matching wine with food is called pairing. The head winemaker, Mr. Mizukami says, “When you pair wine and food, the ‘1+1’ becomes bigger and better as a pair.”
“For example, white wine made from Koshu grapes has this tartness like lemon. It goes well with Japanese style grilled fish or Yuba (Tofu skin) as well as other dishes you usually eat with a squeeze of lemon. Red wine made from Muscat Bailey A (a Japanese black grape variety that is suitable for both eating and winemaking) goes well with native dishes. Also when you pair it with Torimotsu*, its creamy miso softens the astringency of tannins (One of polyphenols contained in grapes which are astringent chemical substances) and they go really well together. Both of those wines complement the dishes paired with and elevate your meals.”
*Torimotsu … One of Yamanashi’s specialties made of chicken offal stewed in a rich salty and sweet sauce
Wine has been part of everyday life for people in Yamanashi for a very long time as you can see in how they developed the original style to enjoy wine with 1-sho bottles and yunomi teacups.
“What we want to deliver is ‘wine you never get tired of’ and what we hope to achieve is for people to add our wine to the table on a regular basis. That’s why we’re aiming to make approachable wine focusing on a balance in aroma, impression wine gives you when you taste it and aftertaste. With Yamanashi’s wine, you can see who makes them so I believe that each winemaker’s stance shows through in their wine. Each winemaker is unique in their own way, which makes it fascinating. I want people to enjoy wine more casually without overthinking it.”
They tell us that it’s also important to taste and compare different wines in order to figure out what you like.
“We don’t ask for you to learn all about wine like identifying different flavors and so on but we just want you to taste and compare many different wines so that you can find out what you like.”
Make wine more approachable… Monde Shuzo’s challenge will still continue.
＼Let's go to Monde Shuzo／
Store： Monde Shuzo (Monde Winery)
Address： 476 Ichibe, Isawacho, Fuefuki city
Tel： (+81) – 55 – 262 - 3161
Opening hours： 8:30～17:00
Closed: December 31
※Monde Shuzo accept a winery tour for free at any time.