For many, when you think of Japanese alcohol, you may think of a type of alcohol called rice wine. However, wine itself is highly acknowledged in Japan. One of those wines is the Tokachi wine made in Hokkaido.
The Tokachi wine was founded in a town in Hokkaido called Ikeda cho, where production was poor, and 2 years after the Obsidian Earthquake in 1952, production declined even more. In order to escape from such a bad environment, the mayor of the town, Kaneyasu Marutani, thought of ways to grow grapes and create wine in such a cold environment.
On top of being extremely cold, it doesn’t rain in Hokkaido in the winter either. Because of this, the air is dry, so the grape trees would die if they were produced using a normal method. That is why autumn is the best season for grape production, when the days are longer and the temperature difference between daytime and nighttime increases. This results in best balance of acid and sugar for making excellent wine.
At first, the town tried foreign ways to cultivate their grapes, but Ikeda cho was too cold for this, so the locals came up with their own new cultivation method, called “Kiyomi”. Later on they created even newer original methods that they named “Kiyomai” and “Yamasachi”. These new region and climate adapted practices have won Ikeda cho many national awards and prizes.
The Tokachi wine has always been dry since it was first founded. In order to get these special sour grapes to taste this way, they need to be growing in the North under certain circumstances. Another reason why Tokachi wine is dry is that it goes perfectly with any type of food; whether it’s Japanese cuisine or anything else, the Tokachi wine brings out flavors of the ingredients it is paired with.
Photo by Tokachi-Ikeda Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology
Ikedacho Budou・Budou Liquor Institute
83 Kiyomi Ikeda-cho Nakagawa-gun Hokkaido
Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza Sapporo store
4 Kitarokujonishi Kita-ku Sapporo-shi Hokkaido