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.

November 2022 Wine Recommendations

We began our blog last month with a gloomy rainy scene from the front porch of our home in Kurohime. So, it is only fair to show what a difference a month makes. And Jim would match up a Kurohime fall afternoon in November with the finest days in the woods of New England or the forested hills of the Ardennes in Belgium -- both of which we have enjoyed many times. That said, sunny, brisk November weather in Nagano comes too late for the grapes -- which are harvested in October. The irony is that nothing goes better with a beautiful fall day in Nagano (or anywhere for that matter) than a nice glass of Merlot. So, we will be introducing three of these in this month's blog.

August 2022 Wine Recommendations

Last month, we wrote about Nobutaka Hirano and the support that he was providing to other small winemakers in Nagano with the making and marketing of their wines. We noted that Hirano had learned his craft locally, working at the Villa d'Est winery and the facilities at Arc en Vigne, an educational center for winemaking established by poet and winemaker Toyoo Tamamura.

June 2022 Wine Recommendations

Jim's good friend and wine drinking partner, C.W. Nicol, passed away two years ago last April. Nic held a black belt in karate and worked briefly in the United Kingdom as a professional wrestler. He was a "bear" of a man, who seemed indestructible. And while he is now gone, his legacy, the Afan Forest Foundation and the 35 hectares of forest land that he brought back to life continues.

May 2022 Wine Recommendations

Spring has a AT LAST come to Nagano -- even so it has been among the wettest and coldest on record. Our Nagano home sits 800 meters above sea level and there are still traces of snow in the shadows and much more on the tops of the 2500 meter plus mountains that surround us. Nonetheless, we recently hosted a small tasting of Nagano wines at our hilltop gazebo for our neighbors and have another one scheduled for early June.