Pairing Your Trip with Wine
Exploring the world of Miyazaki’s wine is quite interesting.
Presently, six prefectures except for Saga prefecture produce wines in Kyushu. The amount of wine production in Kyushu is 770 thousand bottles (counted as 750ml per bottle) a year. Surprisingly, Miyazaki itself makes more than half of the amount, about 470 thousand bottles a year. On top of that, those wines are made from local grapes grown in Miyazaki.
Miyazaki’s climate is much different from the major wine-producing regions in the world. Annual daylight hours are one of the longest in Japan. The amount of precipitation is extremely high. Typhoons hit every year. People often see Miyazaki as a non-ideal place for making wines.
On the other hand, the longer daylight time is also an advantage for Miyazaki’s winemakers. The daylight makes grapes ripe earlier than in other parts of Japan, so farmers may harvest the grapes earlier too. Miyazaki’s winemakers progressively experiment to enrich the soil to conditions to best fit Miyazaki’s climate as well as cross-breeding different types of grapes. Local farmers and winemakers have built up their own styles of making wines. Their spirit of inquiry and great efforts have been supporting Miyazaki’s wine culture.
Wineries are located all over Miyazaki.
Miyazaki Gokase Winery
Located on the northwest side of Miyazaki, roughly in the center of Kyushu. Gokase town is well-known for its beautiful sunset sceneries surrounded by the Kyushu mountain range. Despite the cool climate and seasonally covered by snow in the winter, this town is still part of Miyazaki. Winemakers succeeded in only using grapes made by local farmers who grow grapes with great effort and passion in the harsh yet rich natural environment. The extreme temperature difference and the freshwater that comes down from the mountains make grapes flavor an exquisite balance of sweetness and sourness.
The southernmost winery of Kyushu. Miyakonojo City is rich in food culture. You may enjoy many wines that are a great match with Miyakonojo’s food such as Miyazkaki beef, pork, and fresh vegetables. Farmers took advantage of volcanic ash soil which usually does not retain water well, and developed the south side of the mountain slope into terraced fields to grow grapes there. They’ve improved their skills of cross-breeding to make great wines in Miyazaki’s harsh climate conditions. They implemented cross-breeding of native grapes and European kinds of grapes to craft out the wine’s rich flavors and more complicated textures.
Kobayashi City is the top grape-producing city, located on the southwest side of Miyazaki. Local winemakers work hard to make wines by using 100% Kobayash locally-grown grapes. They have been focusing on characterizing Muscat Bailey A and Pione in particular. Both go great with Japanese food. Besides growing domestic breeds, farmers also grow nine kinds of wine grapes for Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. To make high-quality wine grapes, farmers adopt a trellis style and use vinyl covers to control the amount of rain, temperature, and humidity. They work on creating the best environments for grapes by analyzing the soil on each farm while planning on fertilization.
Aya Winery is located 45 minutes away from Miyazaki airport. They provide aromatic wines made from several types of grapes, 100% grown in Japan: Black Olympia is grown in Aya town, Campbell Early and Delaware grapes are grown in several parts of Miyazaki and Japan. At Aya Winery, they introduce a unique sterilizing process where they fill up the wine without heating it. That makes their wines fresh, fruity, and fragrant.
Despite the “unsuitable weather for making wines,” these local wineries have been producing unbelievably delicious wines by discovering their independent ways of making them.
Tsuno Winery (都農ワイナリー) is located on the east side hill of Tsuno town(都農町) where you have a full view of the beautiful Hyūga-nada Sea. They produce world-class wines by introducing their original ways of winemaking.
Tsuno Winery produces about 200 thousand bottles of wine every year. Some of their wines are recognized internationally: Three of their signature wines won at IWC (International Wine Challenge), the worldwide annual wine competition in 2019. “Onoshita Estate Chardonnay #5” won “Best Wine from Japan 2021” at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition 2021.
Winemakers offer an hour winery tour for those who like to see the unique winemaking process at Tsuno Winery. You can book a winery tour for up to 8 people on the Tsuno Winery’s website (Information is at the bottom of this page). There are two tour plans: The first one offers wine with a paired fresh meal from TSUNO WINE & BAKERY (¥4,000 per person). The second offer is without the meal pairing (¥2,000 per person). At the end of the tour, you can enjoy wine tasting and explore your favorite wine type from the Tsuno Winery’s special wine selections.
The tour starts from the grape farm. At Tsuno Winery, they use wine grapes 100% grown in Tsuno town. Some of the grapes are grown on their farms. Some are from the local farms around the winery. Winemakers have been exercising ingenuity in many ways. Not only to overcome Miyazaki’s unfavorable weather situations but to make the most out of Miyazaki’s extreme climate and condition the characteristics of the soil in the area to make their wines different than others.
When it comes to growing wine grapes, soil is the key. At Tsuno Winery, winemakers use compost to make nutritious soil.
After learning the ways of winemaking, it’s time to try some of their great wine selections! First, purchase tasting tickets at the counter. (five tickets sold in a bundle for ¥500) Secondly, look at the description panels on the shelf or the TSUNO WINE LIST to decide which wine to try. Take a product card beside each bottle and bring them to the counter with your tickets, and now you are ready to taste.
“The most attractive thing about local places is its food and drinks. Just as French wines match French foods, Miyazaki’s wines match Miyazaki’s local foods and pair perfectly with them. Please enjoy the harmony of the paring of local wines and local food”, the representative director of TSUNO WINE MIYAZAKI, Mr. Akao said.
There will be a Harvest Festival at Tsuno Winery on November 5th this year, where you can taste the new wines made in 2023 paired with Miyazaki dishes made by local restaurants. There will be shuttle buses running from Miyazaki station, or taking a train is another option.
When you are in Miyazaki, please enjoy different types of local wines to find your favorite bottle.
For more information about Miyazaki’s wineries, please check the websites below:
Miyazaki Gokase Winery