Day Trip Japan Wine Kingdom – Yamanashi Katsunuma

I have been wanting to visit Yamanashi for a while – for 2 years actually since i first came to Tokyo! If you have been following me, I’m a wine appreciator, or at least i would like to think so 🙂

Japan’s wine kingdom is located in Yamanashi Prefecture where 27% of Japan’s wine is produced from this region and Katsunuma housed more than a dozen wineries here!

I have been trying all the Japanese wine in the supermarket and was very surprised to find most Japanese wines are without preservatives (Sulphur dioxide, Sulfurs) and organic! This is really rare to find in wine produced in European countries, further more I find that Japanese wine dont make me have any hangover.

Katsunuma is just 2 hours away from Tokyo by train. Besides that, Katsunuma is surrounded by mountain range, with fresh river streams and crisp fresh air which makes it a perfect day trip!

When to go

The best way to enjoy the season’s best fruit is to pick it yourself!  the magnificent mountains and stunning autumn foliage. There will be also grapes stomping activities! Be sure to make your reservation before hand.
Picking season: Early August–late October

How to go

The final station is JR Katsunuma, approx. 2 hours from Shinjuku station. It is definitely doable in a day trip.
Station: Katsunuma Budokyo Station
Line: JR Chuo Line

From the station, there are 3 ways to visit the wineries – taxi, walk or by sight seeing bus.
I was greeted by waiting taxis at the station and they offers tours to bring to the more popular wineries. The interval of the sightseeing bus are 30min-1hour. We opted to walk, what other best way to explore the unbeaten path!

My Itinerary

I visited Yamanashi in early Mid November when the harvest season was just over and explored the area by walking. All the wineries are walkable from the station and offers free wine tasting! The only hotel in Katsunuma was at budo-no-oka and all the rooms were booked one week before. I stayed in a hotel at Kofu station which is the nearest city 30min away by train.

Yamanashi is not only home to wineries, it is also called the Kingdom of Fruits! Peaches, apples, blueberries, Persimmons! So if you are not into wine, there are other farms to visit.

Budo-no-oka Wine Cave

I reached at 10.30am via express train and my first stop was Budo no Oka because it was the nearest to the station. Once you step of the station you will be able see it on the hill right opposite it.

Right on top the hill opposite the station

From the station, just turn right and follow the signage.

Budo no oka direction signage at kutsunama
Turn right from the station and just follow the direction signage

It was a easy and enjoyable walk in Autumn weather and I get to see all the private vineyards! I took the opportunity to take picture, which is a blessing as I realized later that I cannot access the vineyards of the commercial wineries! Take note!

Budo-no-oka is more of a winery,  in addition they have  hotel rooms, restaurants and BBQ-  which happens to be the only hotel in the area.

I went straight to the highlight which is the underground wine cave where more than 150 Yamanashi wines are showcased. For paying Y1,100, i can get to try all the wine for as long as you want to sample, and they are all available to purchase. I don’t see much of the brands in Tokyo area, hence it is a good chance to buy a few bottles, we grabbed a few bottles we really like form Soryu winery.

Yamashi Budo no oka entrance

The selection was so wide from rosé, Koshu, Chardonnay, Merlot, Muscat baileyA, desert wine.

Most noteworthy to try the Koshu wine which is a white wine grape variety that has been grown primarily in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Limited edition wine
Limited edition wine

Budo no oka wine cave

Budo-no-oka wine tasting

Budo-no-oka
Address:
Koshu, Yamanashi-ken, Katsunumacho Hishiyama 5093
山梨県甲州市勝沼町菱山5093
20min walk from Katsunuma Budokyo Station or 5min by cab
Cave opening hours:  11am-5pm daily
Admission to wine cave: Y1,100

At around 12pm, we felt hungry and explored the area for food. Gurunavi.com brought us to a homemade udon restaurant, 思蓮 which was just 1 min walk away. The noodle was handmade and the soup is so うま味 umani! Simple but definitely filling to warm up the stomach during cold autumn.

Château Mercian

Second winery was Chateau Mercian which was 1.5km away. The walk took me 1 hour as I was taking photos, enjoying the beautiful autumn weather! It will only take 10min by taxi.

Lots of private vineyards along the way

Chateau Mercian needs no introduction. Château Mercian is the highest quality wine which was brought about in 1970 by Mercian corporation. Their wines are exported worldwide and has won countless award. I have been drinking their wines for two years. You will be able to see it all convenience stores supermarket and overseas. Yamanashi is just one of their wineries, they have it in Fukushima, Akita and Nagoya.

hikawa river
Château Mercian is located right by the river

Japanese wine are of a light and sweeter note, I personally prefer dry and full body which is what i found in certain range of Mercian’s wines. Their primary grape varieties are Koshu, Merlot, Muscat baileyA.

Firstly, there is an al fresco cafe where you can enjoy the wine by glass or bottle.

Wine cafe at Château Mercian
Al fresco wine cafe at Château Mercian

Further more, they have a wine museum where the original wine barrels from the 1960s are on display.

Château Mercian wine museum
Château Mercian wine museum

Even more, they have organized wineries tour please book in advance as they are only on Sundays and sell out fast.

Château Mercian
Address: 山梨県甲州市 勝沼町下岩崎 1425-1 〒409-1313
Shimo-Iwasaki, Katsunuma-cho Koshu-shi Yamanashi 1425-1, Zip 409-1313 

Open hours : 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m
Tel: +81 553-44-1011

Do take note the last bus leaves at 17:18hours from Château Mercian
I missed the last bus by 10sec! The bus just zoomed by without stopping, as a result I ended up walking in cold darkness back to the station.

I also visited Chateau Katsunuma and Soryu wineries on the way back.

Chateau Katsunuma
Chateau Katsunuma

 

Tips

  • There are totally no convenience stores at Kutsunama,
  • There are only 3 restaurants available, two at Budo-no-oka and the other was the noodle restaurant I ate. I would recommend eating elsewhere or buy some snacks to eat before and in between your wine tasting sessions.
  • Japanese are known to be very punctual – before time not on time! The time stated is the time the bus will depart. Make sure you are at the bus stop at least 10min before the stated time.

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