Home > NHK WORLD News > Business Insight


Business Insight


Business Insight

Fruits of Labor

Japanese wines have been getting increasing praise from around the world. And one person behind this is a young winemaker in central Japan. She's combining local grapes with European technique to get award-winning results.

Ayana Misawa is the daughter of a fourth-generation wine producer in Yamanashi Prefecture. Wines from the region were previously not regarded as authentic fine wine. But with a lot work, she's helped to change that.

"Our product was called second rate, and for a long time we didn't do anything about it. The producers didn't realize the true potential of their crop. So I decided to make grapes that were deeper and richer, and which would mature over time."
Ayana Misawa / Winemaker Chuo Budoshu

Yamanashi Prefecture is a major grape producer in Japan. For years, farmers there have grown a local species called Koshu, mainly for eating. With extra care and effort, Misawa has made it suitable for fine wine.

"I was born into a family that really treasures Koshu grapes. I grew up with them. For other winemakers, it's just another variety, one of many species of grape. But for me, it's truly precious."
Ayana Misawa / Winemaker Chuo Budoshu

Misawa studied authentic wine-making at Bordeaux University in France. There she learned the methods of cultivation that are needed to make a bottle of fine wine.

"I learned that winemaking techniques in Japan are not as refined. In Japan, the focus is on the winery, but in France, it's on the vineyard."
Ayana Misawa / Winemaker Chuo Budoshu

After Misawa returned to Japan, she was determined to change the method of growing Koshu grapes. She planted the crops in a completely different way, with the vines growing vertically. This gave them a higher sugar content, which is key to making good wine. She then selected the sweetest grapes by hand, and only used those for cultivation. After laboring for five years, her efforts paid off. She grew a crop of the sweetest grapes yet.

The grapes won a gold prize last year at one of the largest international wine contests in England. The drink is now gaining recognition among Western wine lovers.

"For a long time I felt like I was failing, so I'm glad that I didn't give up. I've managed to make something I'm satisfied with."
Ayana Misawa / Winemaker Chuo Budoshu

Chefs and sommeliers say the drink goes well with Japanese cuisine. Misawa is now focusing on finding ideal food pairings for her wine.

"Japanese food embodies the delicate skill and effort of the chef. Koshu grapes are like that, too. They're very carefully grown, giving them a refined taste. I want to make wine that showcases Japanese food culture, and I want to share it with the world."
Ayana Misawa / Winemaker Chuo Budoshu

*You will leave the NHK website. 


More on Business