Iwanohara Vineyard in Joetsu
Visit one of Japan’s oldest wineries and learn about the founder’s passion, tasting some of their vintages in Niigata Prefecture
Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture
Zenbei Kawakami, known as the father of wine grapes in Japan, established the Iwanohara Vineyard in 1890 in snowy Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture.
Taking on the challenge of improving grape varieties to suit the chilly local climate, Kawakami experimented by crossbreeding 10,311 varieties. The result was 22 excellent grape varieties, including “Muscat Baily A”.
He also used snow to control fermentation temperatures and the temperature of the wine aging cellar in order to produce high quality wine. In an era when there were no cooling facilities, the No. 2 Ishikura (stone storehouse), a wine aging cellar, was equipped with a yukimuro, a natural snow-based refrigerator.
Book a free tour of the Iwanohara Vineyard to learn about this historic Japanese winery and their commitment to their craft. Your guide will take you through No. 1 Ishikura, one of the oldest existing wine cellars in the country and a registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan, as well as the No. 2 Ishikura, snow cellar and other facilities. After the tour, try their wine and delicious food at the restaurant.
How to get there
From JR Tokyo Station, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Joetsu Myoko Station (1 hour and 50 minutes). The winery is about 25 minutes by taxi.
1223 Kitagata, Joetsu-shi, Niigata-ken