Wine production is quite recent in the Land of the Rising Sun, but already, Koshu, the emblematic pink grape variety of Japan, produces nice white wines with a lot of freshness.
A brief history of the vineyard
In Japan, the culture of the vine goes back to the 8th century, during the Nara period (710-794). At that time, grapes were consumed as table grapes.
In the XVIth century Japan discovered wine. Portuguese wines were offered to the Lord of Kyûshu. And wine became a rare and confidential product, with some medicinal virtues.
Under Edo, isolationist policies made wine more and more inaccessible.
But with Meiji, came the opening and westernization of Japan. Wine making began to be mastered. And in 1900, Japan even won prizes at the World Fair in Paris for its wines.
After the war and during the 1970s, Japanese people started drinking wine more often. Consumption increased, followed by a strong increase in local wine production.
Local grape variety: Koshu
The main local grape variety is Koshu, a white-fleshed, pink hybrid grape variety with which the most famous Japanese wines are made.
European grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are making a promising start in Japan.
The main wine regions are Yamanashi (west of Tokyo) and Osaka. But there is also Yamagata and Nagano, further north. All are located on the main island of Honshu.
Since the 1960s, the island of Hokkaido, one of the largest agricultural regions of Japan, located in the north of Honshu, also produces wine.
Extent of the vineyard
The viticulture in Japan covers an area from the island of Kyushu in its southern part to the island of Hokkaido in its northernmost part.
It covers an area of about 30,000 hectares.
But a large part of these vineyards are still used for table grapes.
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