Spotlight returns to Northern Hokkaido’s alcohol production thanks to grapes cultivated in Nakatombetsu

Feb. 6
Brewing grapes hand-picked for the first time by the town mayor (left) and others in the third year of test cultivation.

Wine-grape vines grown in an experiment in the town of Nakatombetsu in the Soya region of northern Hokkaido bore their first fruits last autumn. The yield comprised just 20 bunches, but is seen as the first step towards realizing the aim of creating “northern Hokkaido brewing grapes”. The town aims to maintain vineyards and harvest the grapes from 2025, while experimenting on sustainable methods of cultivation.

 In the spring of 2018, a total of 8 hectares of test farms were prepared on two plots of private land in the town. A total of 52 saplings of4varieties (‘Kiyomi’, ‘Kiyomai’ and ‘Yamasachi’ from Ikeda in the Tokachi region, and ‘Seibel 13053’ from Furano) were planted and survived the subsequent winter. In 2019, they continued to grow satisfactorily and last year, of the 4 varieties planted, the ‘Yamasachi’ variety bore fruit.

 In mid-October, 2020, the grapes were harvested by the town mayor and others, and made into grape juice. The grapes had sufficient sweetness for brewing, as well as a rich flavor amid the tartness.

 Saito, a ‘local vitalization cooperator’ in Nakatombetsu working on the grape cultivation, is searching for cultivation methods suitable for the town, while preparing for the selection of commercial vineyards. His dream is to “produce a wine unique to this region.”

Location

Nakatombetsu Town

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