Remember when I went to Japan in January? Well, there was one part of the trip I didn’t tell you about. I went on a wine tasting tour in Koshu, and I’ve been keeping it under wraps until today. I’m excited to finally tell you about the trip, not least because it was such a unique travel experience.
I went to Koshu with wondertrunk & co., who sponsored my tour and has a new offering for others who want to follow in my footsteps. Located just a 2-hour drive from Tokyo, Koshu is full of rural life and scenery you can’t find in big Japanese cities. There’s heritage galore—the Eirin temple is a prime example—and vineyards everywhere.
Before I went to Koshu I didn’t know there were wineries in Japan, but during my time there I learned there’s a wine making tradition that dates back to the 19th century.
At the start of the tour, I was picked up from my hotel in Tokyo by a private hire car service with a driver who spoke excellent English. He provided door-to-door service from there to Koshu, where my tour started with winery visits.
The first stop was Kizan, a small family-operated winery that has been in business for over 75 years. I was welcomed for a tasting and learned about different varietals and Japanese wine making techniques.
The next winery on the itinerary was Marufuji, where I got to taste more wines and take a walk through the vineyards. I loved the way the vines were trained to form flat-topped canopies over the ground.
The third winery was Lumiere, where I got a backstage tour and tasting. I also got a chance to wander through the vineyards, which are all marked with sweet labels.
But my tour wasn’t just wine tasting. I also learned the history of Koshu and Japanese wine. A visit to Miyakoen, a museum dedicated to the art of Japanese wine making, took me through the full story of how wine making and vineyards came to this region. The downstairs area was a traditional Japanese home, while the upstairs was a dedicated museum full of facts and artifacts.
Food figured into my tour, too. I had a delicious lunch at La Maison Ancienne, a restaurant set in a traditional Japanese building. A wine pairing helped me appreciate how how Japanese wines are made to go well with local ingredients.
I also got to taste a unique Japanese specialty. Dried persimmons are one local man’s passion, and I was treated to a tasting in his orchard. The flavor was like nothing I’ve ever tasted, and I liked how intense and sweet it was.
When I wasn’t eating or drinking, I was learning more about local culture. I had the opportunity to visit a local tatami factory, where the owner showed me how the traditional mats are made. It was fascinating to get an insight into how they’re constructed, especially since I saw so many tatami mats while I was in Japan.
I also visited the Eirin Temple, a beautiful historic complex with a garden. It was great to absorb some of the spiritual aspects of the area while I was there.
By the time I left to travel back to Tokyo, I felt like I had gotten a great overview of the Japanese wine making process, history, and flavors, and also of the Koshu region. It was a great way to experience a different part of Japan than most visitors see, and I even caught a glimpse of Mount Fuji along the way.
Wine Tour Itinerary: Calm Getaway to the Wine Village–Koshu-
Morning: pickup in Tokyo by private hire
10:30: Visit Kizan Winery for a guided tour and wine tasting
11:30: Explore Eirin Temple area on a guided walk, visit a tatami factory, and persimmon tasting (seasonal).
13:30: Lunch at La Maison Ancienne, a French restaurant with local ingredients accompanied by 3 different wines.
After Lunch: Free time to enjoy winery hopping and explore the area, then depart for Tokyo.
*The private hire is for 16 hours. You can decide when you leave Tokyo and Yamanashi within 16 hours.
You can book the tour through the wondertrunk & co. website. It will be available on selected dates from the end of July 2018, and up to 4 people can join.
This post is sponsored by wondertrunk & co.