Tokyo’s only winery looks to go local

Posted on the Japan News by Yomiuri Shimbun on November 12, 2014. Yomiuri Shimbun
Miwa Echigoya, seen with red wine she is making from Tokyo-grown Takao grapes at Tokyo Winery in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, says she wants to publicize Tokyo agriculture.

The Yomiuri Shimbun 

The only winery in Tokyo opened in a residential area of Nerima Ward in September. Just one month later it started selling its first three wines, made from grapes purchased from Yamagata and Nagano prefectures. Tokyo Winery was founded by Miwa Echigoya, 38, who used to work at the Ota Market of the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market as an intermediate vegetable wholesaler. She began the winery thinking, “I want to make wine using grapes from Tokyo.”

The winery is now making red wine from Tokyo-grown grapes. Echigoya is enthusiastic about spreading the idea of Tokyoites consuming Tokyo products: the drinking of wine and the eating of vegetables from Tokyo.

She opened Tokyo Winery in the Oizumigakuen district of Nerima Ward. One day in the year 2000, Echigoya was working at Ota Market and tasted a cabbage harvested that morning by a farmer in Nerima Ward. She was surprised at the freshness and sweetness of a vegetable grown in Tokyo. About two years ago, she decided she wanted to start her business so she could publicize agricultural products made in Tokyo.

In university, Echigoya studied agriculture and biology in the agricultural department, but she was an absolute amateur when it came to wine-making. She learned about wine-making by receiving training at a winery in Yamanashi Prefecture, and through reading books about wine-making she found overseas. She obtained her license for producing alcohol from fruits in September.

According to the National Tax Agency, Echigoya is the only person in Tokyo who holds the license.

In October, she started to sell three kinds of wine using the chardonnay and Delaware grape varieties she had purchased from Yamagata and Nagano prefectures.

Currently, she is in the process of making red wine using fragrant Takao grapes originating in Tokyo. She aims to sell 8,000 bottles of wine under 10 labels in December.

Echigoya sticks to light, refreshing wine as she wants customers to drink her products with vegetables grown in Tokyo.

In the future, she plans to offer nibbles of made-in-Tokyo vegetables at a wine tasting space to be set up in her facility so that visitors can enjoy how they compliment with wine.

“I’d like many people to know that wine and vegetables can be produced even in Tokyo,” she said.

Newly opened wineries

According to the Tokyo-based Association of Nippon’s Wine Lovers, an association of Japanese wine aficionados, wineries exist in about 200 locations around the country. The number has been increasing by about 10 locations a year for the past several years. An official in charge at the association said that the number of restaurants that stock Japanese wine is also increasing, mainly in Tokyo.

The majority of wineries that opened recently are private enterprises like Tokyo Winery. Wine expert Fujitoshi Yanagida, professor at the Institute of Enology and Viticulture at the University of Yamanashi, said: “Japanese wine is becoming popular as its quality has improved. Original and rare wine made at small wineries is attracting attention and the situation has boosted private wineries.

The original article: