I’m on a late summer vacation this week. We just went to the Katsunuma and Isawa Onsen areas in Yamanashi Prefecture for an overnight trip with my husband’s mom, who was visiting Tokyo.
Katsunuma/Isawa are in the eastern part of the Koshu Basin, and it’s about 1.5 to 2 train ride from Tokyo. Katsunuma is the viniculture/winemaking center of Japan. Koshu grapes” (Yamanashi has 95% of the Koshu plantings in Japan).
Our first stop was the Budo-no-oka Center (ぶどうの丘). After lunch at a restaurant with an open view of the Kofu Basin, we headed to the basement floor wine cave at for tasting some local wine of Yamanashi.
There must have been at least 80 different open bottles all available for tasting. It was nice to be able to try out wine from several different cellars all at one place. They don’t have any water or wine crackers there, so it’s a good idea to bring bottled water along with you.
Our favorite picks: Classic (クラシック) from Katsunuma Winery, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (シャルドネ樽発酵) from Soryu Winery, and Made in Katsunuma 100% Red (勝沼産100% 赤) from Chateau Katsunuma.
“Classic” by Katsunuma Winery
Salmon for lunch
We stayed at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) in Isawa Onsen, and enjoyed the hot spring and traditional food. Only in Japan (I think) — you can hit both wine country and hot spring at once!
On next day, we went to Budoubatake farm for grape picking. We got to taste about a dozen different kinds of grapes that are now in season. Then the staff took us to a few of their farms where we could hand-pick the ones we liked. I really enjoyed the fresh taste of Tamayutaka and Shine Muscat. We took home those in addition to Fuji Minori and Kaiji.
Wide variety of grapes
“Shine Muscat” and “Wink”
Juicers for winemaking
They also have a small winery called Hishiyama Chuo Winery (菱山中央醸造). We took a quick tour and tasted their white, rosé, and sparkling, and I was amazed by how good they were.
The winemaking facility here is mostly used by grape growers for making wine from their own local (food-grade) grapes. They only sell a very limited number of bottles to the public, and the bottles don’t have any labels. I highly recommend visiting this place and hearing the story behind their wine!
Mujirushi (“no-brand”) Label wine by Hishiyama Chuo cellar (菱山中央醸造)