Welcome to HOKKAIDO Wine!
Wine making in Hokkaido began at the end of the 1960s but our winery was established in 1974. There are about 26 wineries in Hokkaido today. We are not the oldest winery but we are the biggest.
Our winery is built on a mountain hillside. The elevation here is about 225m. Here we have clean and cool conditions and we also have a great view of the nearby forest and the sea. Having a winery on a hill has three further special and important advantages.
The first advantage is that, although we can use cold natural water drawn from a well rising from mountain ground water, we don't use this water to make wine. Rather, it is used for cooling the fermentation tanks. That way we can control the temperature and protect the wine from outside heat.
The second factor is the slope of the mountain. Grapes arrive at the higher side of our mountain and then go to the start of the wine-making process. That is, pressed grapes move to the next processing stage by gravity only. No pumps are needed. This way the grape juice is handled with more care, which results in better wine.
The third and last factor is the very large amount of snow that we have in winter. Snow covers the tanks that we put outside. This accelerates the formation of "wine stones" in the tanks.
We produce wine made from 100% Japanese grapes. We use between 2000 to 2500 tons of grapes every year. These grapes come from our own vineyard, and also from grape growers.
We have the biggest vineyard in Japan, the “Tsurunuma Winery” (447ha) , which is located in Urausu town about 100km from Otaru. However, we also contract with about 300 other grape growers in Hokkaido.
The grape harvest is from September to November and the grapes are carried by a truck to our winery. During the grape harvest, we receive 30 tons of grapes or more every day. Arriving grapes are put into buckets, called “Byutte,” which is a German word. One bucket can hold 500 kg of grapes. During the grape harvest, we accept on average 60 buckets a day.
At the Tsurunuma winery, the grapes are picked by a harvester machine and are pressed as soon as they arrive at that facility. However we do not do the alcohol fermentation stage there. The grape juice is instead carried here by a tanker which has temperature control. The reason for this is that the Tsurunuma winery is 100 km from Otaru.
We have several series of wine. They differ in grape roots or the grape growing area.
Grapes have two roots. One comes from Europe and is called “Vitis Vinifera” and the other comes from America and is called “Vitis Labrusca.”
Our most famous brand is the “Otaru-series.” These wines are made from “Vitis Labrusca.” They have a lovely natural flavor and taste just like fresh, juicy grapes. These wines are very popular, and in fact “Otaru Niagara” is our most popular wine.
The “Hokkaido-series” is not so expensive but is always of high quality. This series is made from a single grape type grown by different growers.
The Kerner is especially good with seafood such as Sushi or Sashimi.
Our flagship wine is the “Tsurunuma-series.” This series is made from our own vineyard's late harvest grapes. The grapes are checked each time for quality and are harvested by hand. If the grapes and the wine do not reach the exacting quality that we require, we don’t produce this series.
Some wines are not produced every year. These are what we call “Limited produce wine.”
If the autumn has been dry and very sunny, the grapes have a good ripening period. Furthermore, some of the grapes are affected by Botrytis-Cinerea, or what we call the “noble-rot.” Botrytis-Cinerea is a kind of fungus which makes the fruit shrivel and concentrates the sugars that are required to produce quality sweet wines. The wine will become sweet and luscious, and you can store it much longer.