January 2022 Recommendations

Viniqrobe was opened by a older couple named Yasuhiro and Hiroko Kurata, who left Tokyo jobs in banking and the pharmaceutical industry in 2016 to make wines on two hectares of land in Takayama Village, one of the prime areas for viticulture in the Chikumagawa District. Their goal is to produce an excellent Japanese Pinot Noir, but they are also planting Merlot.

December 2021 Recommedations

The snow is already falling in our corner of Nagano and we are busy with preparation for the winter season. Our home is just 30 minutes outside of Nagano city, but we are located on the slopes of Mount Kurohime and caught between Mount Myoko and highlands of the Tokagushi and Shiga Kogen that serve to funnel the cold snowy weather from the Sea of Japan, which is just 30 kilometers to the northwest. The result is over three meters of snowfall each year and some of the best skiing in Japan (and for that matter Asia). 

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.

August 2021 Recommendations

Summer has come to Nagano – and we are enjoying a succession of warm, sunny days ranging up to 30 degrees Celsius and dropping in the evening to the low 20’s – an ideal diurnal range for Syrah grapes. As we noted before, the climate in Nagano is friendly to the Syrah grape and growers here are increasingly featuring this wine in their portfolios. Another reason may be that the wine produced from the Syrah grape in Nagano agrees better with Japanese sensibilities. It is light, fruity and hints of Japan’s local pepper, “sansho”. The contrast with California, Spain and Australian Shiraz wines can be quite stark.

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.