Enjoy a tour around the wineries of Sapporo City
Hokkaido’s winemaking started in 1876 when the Sapporo Winery (Sapporo Budoshu Seisakujo) was founded. In 1938, winemaking further spread as today’s Nikka Whisky started making wine in Yoichi and gradually expanded to such locations as Ikeda, Furano, and Otaru.
In recent years winery tours have increased in popularity, as the number of connoisseurs who know about the wine making process and where it is made has increased. There are currently three wineries in Sapporo, each producing their own distinctive wine. We sat down to talk with Sayuri Arai, head of the group “Wine Supporters from Hokkaido.”
Sapporo Fujino Winery
Located along Route 205 between the center of Sapporo city and Jozankei in Minami ward, Fujino, this winery first started making wines in 2009. At the restaurant “Vigne,” located 1 km from their direct sales store, Sapporo Fujino Winery’s wine can be enjoyed along with a meal. Although the grapes they grow are small in number, they are of high quality, and the Winery strives to make wine using as few additives as possible.
Bankei Ridge Winery
The earliest winery in Sapporo, the Bankei Ridge Winery started winemaking in 2001 at the mountainside of Chuo Ward’s Bankei Ridge. Using only the natural power of yeast, additive-free wine is hand-made here using grapes from Niki, Sobetsu, and other towns in Hokkaido, as well as local wild grapes from Bankei. According to Ms. Arai, the wine maker Shuji Tamura has long had fans who honor him, and his most popular wine is “Cider Wine,” which is made using apples. Because the winery is located so close to the center of Sapporo, it is recommended to purchase wine directly after talking with Mr. Tamura on the spot. On the last weekend of every month, tastings are held and the terrace cafe “Ridge Tea House” is open.
A new winery that has just begun shipments in March 2012. Built at the foot of Mt. Hakkennzan, the gorgeous wooden winery building can be seen even from a distance.
This winery has the unusual approach of starting their winemaking with geological research, and growing grapes and making wines that match the soil. They make sparkling liquor fermented from apples as well. Their first shipment was made from Hokkaido grapes. “Although their grapevines are still young, these will grow gradually and I look forward to them being able to make wine in a few years using entirely their own grapes,” says Ms. Arai. If you contact them ahead of time, it is possible to take a tour of the winery and vineyards.
Ms. Sayuri Arai
After become a native of Hokkaido in 2008, Ms. Arai established the “Wine Supporters from Hokkaido” and became its representative. In May 2011, she opened Wine Cafe Veraison inside Hug Eat (Tanukikoji 5-chome). Wine Supporters from Hokkaido Hokkaido―Wine & Cheese Street Salon The Hotel Gracery Sapporo allows visitors to taste ample wines from wineries and vineyards across Hokkaido, as well as local cheese in an effort to advertise products from the prefecture and contribute to the local economy. Now they have opened “Hokkaido―Wine & Cheese Street Salon”, where anyone (including those not staying at the hotel) can casually enjoy local wines and cheeses.