Tasting of wine currently being matured in Hoheikyo Dam tunnel

Representatives check the taste of wine matured in the tunnel at Hoheikyo Dam

Tasting of Hokkaido wine and tea leaves took place on June 17, at a maintenance tunnel at Hoheikyo Dam (Minami-ku, Sapporo), where they are currently being stored as part of an experiment. Approximately 20 representatives from a winery and a specialty Japanese Tea store in Sapporo, which are taking part in the experiment, checked the mellowness and aroma attained during the maturing process.

The tunnel, which is approximately 50 m long and 2.5 m tall, was dug as part of bedrock surveys approximately 50 years ago but is not usually used. As temperatures around 10 degrees and humidity around 100% are constantly maintained, the tunnel is ideal for long-term maturing processes, prompting Hakkenzan Winery and Sapporo Fujino Winery (Minami-ku) to store wine there from 2015, and Gyokusuien Tea Shop (Chuo-ku) to store tea leaves there from 2016. Each company’s product types and storage periods are changed to research changes in taste, and products released from storage are promoted and sold with value-adding ‘dam matured’ labels.

Tasting took place for the first time in two years, and wine that has just been released after six years of storage was served to sommeliers and Japanese tea instructors, who commented on the differences in flavors and aromas.

According to Akimoto Takahiro (32), chief winemaker at Sapporo Fujino Winery, which stores approximately 1,200 bottles of red wine in the tunnel, “There are very few environments in which wine can be matured over long periods, and the tunnel storage provides an opportunity to increase the value of Hokkaido wine.”


Hoheikyo Dam