January 2023 – The “Best of Nagano Wines” in 2022

When not skiing (or playing golf), we have been contributing monthly to the friendsofnaganowine.com blog for four years! Our first piece was uploaded on January 31, 2019. And over this period a lot has changed in Japan and the world. We won't go down the rabbit hole to document and evidence this point. But we will note that our first blog focused on a tasting and interview with the owner of one of Japan's major independent wineries, Shigeyuki Kusunoki of the Kusunoki Winery. And coincidence or not, we will be attending in February a tasting hosted by Mr. Kusunoki of his new wines in Tokyo.

October 2022 Wine Recommendations

We are opening with this dreary video (click the screen to play) of a rainy October 8 morning in Nagano so as to give a real time glimpse of the challenges to producing good wine in Nagano. This year, we had record snowfalls in Nagano, cool weather in June and August that only rarely felt like summer--and cold, rainy weather throughout September and now into October . This video was taken around 9AM from our front porch: it was raining (you can see the puddles on the gravel driveway) and 10 degrees Celsius.

October 2021 Recommendations

We are on the verge of Fall and the harvest season in Nagano. Jim is looking forward to joining in the picking and sorting of the grapes at the nearby San Cousair winery later this month. The weather was quite wet and cloudy during September and the vineyard manager, Makoto Tsuchiya, is a bit anxious if the rains continue through October. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

June 2020 Recommendations

ALPS markets a very nice Chardonnay for 2700 yen under its Musee du Vin Maestro brand. This wine has a nice gold color and a fruity, fresh taste. But for 300 yen more a bottle, you get an entirely different experience: The Dynastie Shiojiri brand exclusively uses grapes from fields that are managed directly by the company rather than from contract farmers.