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Things to do in Japan

The secret of Japanese wines

Most people are amazed to discover that Japan is a wine-producing country at all, so a visit to the main wine region is a journey of discove…

Fabien Fleury
Wine educator, oenophile and guide

Japanese Wine Tour Koshu Valley.

Most people are amazed to discover that Japan is a wine-producing country at all, so a visit to the main wine region is a journey of discovery in so many ways. For a start, the scenery of Yamanashi is beautiful: it’s just to the north of Mount Fuji, so it’s hilly and green, and worth seeing even if you’re not a wine connoisseur. The wineries – around 60 of them – are concentrated in a relatively small area in the Koshu Valley. We visit one that dates back to 1877 and another established in 1979, and it’s fascinating to compare the way the wines are made and, of course, taste a few vintages!

I love walking through the vineyards as it takes me back to my childhood. I grew up not far from Cognac, in south-west France, and when I was little I used to help my grandfather in his own vineyard, which is where my passion for wines was born. Of course, there are differences between Japan and France. The main grape variety grown here is the pink-skinned Koshu, which was introduced more than a thousand years ago and produces crisp white wines that go well with Japanese cuisine. It copes with the relatively humid summers, but the vines are also grown on a kind of high horizontal trellis to let the air circulate better, which people find intriguing.

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Alfred & Fabien Fleury

Tokyo-based Fabien was born in Saintes, near Cognac, in the south-west of France. As a boy, he used to help his grandfather take care of his vineyard, which instilled in him a love of the whole process of wine-making. Fabien has been giving tasting seminars to wine lovers between Europe and Japan for 10 years and enjoys sharing his expertise on tours of Japan’s wine-making Yamanashi area outside Tokyo.

Alfred & our Japan holiday experts

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