I visited the annual Spring Wine Festival held in KOSHU, Yamanashi Prefecture, over the last weekend in May.
The weather cleared up and it turned out to be a beautiful day but it was pretty humid. By the time my husband and I arrived to the festival around noon, the place was already packed with people. If you are planning on going next year, I suggest you go early. It was standing room only at the bar in the corner and there were only a few tables and chairs left open, but none of them had sun shades and I really wanted to sit down. We ended up choosing a bench under a tree in the nearby park located just across from the event.
We paid an entrance fee plus a deposit for a wine glass (¥500), which brought the total entrance fee to ¥1,200/person. The event staff also handed out a wine list with pricing. Thirty-one wineries participated that day and you could try or buy 211 wines. If you've ever traveled around trying to purchase Japanese wines you realize how cool it is to have so many selections all in one place! In order to participate in the wine and food parings we needed to purchase a meal coupon as well.
We started out with sparkling wine, a Kizan Sparkling Traditional Brut. My favorite wine maker. Cold, smooth and perfect as a starter. This is a truly elegant wine and I would highly recommend it for that wedding or special event you are planning to hold.
There were a number of food serving corners, so I chose a grilled sausage and chicken dish. The volume of food served was quite modest, i.e,. not enough if you are hungry, sufficient if you are just experimenting with flavors and pairings. Still, my ¥3000 coupon was gone after just two wine servings and a food paring. Something to think about.
I picked Kisvin's KOSHU wine for the last glass of the day. The vintner told me that they are trying to lessen the bitter after taste of the Koshu grape when making this wine. Bitterness is a typical characteristic of KOSHU grapes and the wines it makes. I would say that Kisvin has succeeded with this wine since it had a more mild after taste than most KOSHU wines I've tasted. It was just perfect as my last wine of the day.
This was an excellent event to get to know some of the wineries in Yamanashi and I would highly recommend it if you are interested in the wines from this region. I wish we could have tasted more of the offerings, but just the few sips we had cost over ¥200 and most of the wines that I wanted to taste were over ¥500. No doubt this is a pricy event and after spending ¥8,000, it was time to go. Actually my husband had to pull me away.
In my opinion, had they allowed us to bring in outside-food or a picnic, or had they charged us a certain fee which included a free drink, and had fewer exceptional paid wines, it would had been more fun. I know they resist doing this because too many people would come to events like this bring their own food and get drunk, but for someone like me who is simply looking for more tasting opportunities, a program that would have offered a greater tasting selection at a more reasonable price would have made the event much more meaningful to me.
After an hour or so at the event we left and headed back to the train. Our commute time, roundtrip, was about three hours.