Bigger is better in Japan’s burgeoning wine industry.
Chateau Mercian, a winery under the umbrella of brewing behemoth Kirin, recently purchased 20 hectares to add to its 21.5 hectares of planted vineyards. The winery is a Japanese original in an industry marked by wines created from imported juice.
“Our goal for Chateau Mercian is to introduce finesse and elegance with is born only by Japan-original viticulture created by us,” the winery’s regional says. “With the wines produced here at Chateau Mercian, we wish that an international recognition as a producer of unique and high quality wines would be gained for Japan while the wines would be more familiar and accepted in their native market of Japan.”
The winery is located in Yamanashi Prefecture, home to Japan’s native Koshu grapes. The region is located about 90 minutes by train outside of Tokyo. The region’s soil is well suited for growing fruit, as its grapes, peaches and cherries have long been favorites of the Japanese.
According to Mercian, the region is the birthplace of Japanese winemaking.
Chateau Mercian was founded in 1970 and began the cultivation of Merlot in 1976 and the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1984. Chardonnay cultivation began in 1990.
Currently, the wineries holdings include Koshu, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Muscat Bailey A, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Mercian’s expansion comes in an era of Japanese wine consumption which focuses primarily on wines produced outside of the island nation.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Japanese consumers drink 2,177 hectoliters of foreign wine as compared to 1,043 hectoliters of Japanese wine.
Interest in Japanese wines, however, is increasing.
“Wines made from domestically produced grapes are gaining popularity in Japan as the quality of many young wineries has improved in recent years with expertise gained abroad,” the USDA wrote in a recent report.
This is good news for a country where wine continues to grow in popularity, with many young people turning to wine and cocktails in lieu of traditional Japanese beverages like sake.
Trade researchers Vinexpo reported that, between 2006 and 2010, wine consumption in Japan “increased by 11.46 percent in Japan, reaching 29.031 million cases by the end of the year.”
Japan’s influence as a wine-savvy is expanding to its exports as well.
“Japanese win makers have become more competitive in the global market place as exports of domestically produced wines have increased,” the USDA said. “The exported Japanese wines are made from the Koshu grape, which has a history of over 11,500 years in the Yamanashi region.”
Photo Credit: Koshu Wines
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