Uehara Shuzō was founded in 1862 in the city of Takashima in the Shiga prefecture. It has been doing business for seven generations. The city is situated on the coast of Japan’s largest lake: Lake Biwa, and enjoys natural fresh water coming from the nearby mountains. 80% of Uehara sake is made with rice grown locally and only a little is imported from other Japanese regions. The rice polishing takes place entirely in the brewery, allowing the master brewer to fully control the process and the rice humidity to make the best sake.
Traditions are important here. Fermentation happens in wooden casks and the pressing is conducted using a traditional wooden press. While these methods are not as efficient as modern technics, they require skills and mastery that can be felt in the final product.
The Kido Izumi brewery has been around since its creation in 1879. Hayato Shōji is the fifth generation of master brewer and brewery master. He has been pursuing with the traditions by using natural fermentation and old brewing techniques that were developed by his predecessors. This is the only brewery in Japan that uses the hot Yamahai method to start the fermentation. In fact, this technique was developed and introduced by the third master brewer at Kido Izumi back in 1956. They also were one of the first brewery to offer aged sake.
Kazuomi Fujimaki and Takayuki Taira
“Newcomer winery founded in 2017. Our Natural wine products are made of 100% Grape which were ripened in Nanyo City, Yamagata Prefecture climate.
The Terroir (total growth environment in French), not only the climate, terrain or soil but also including people who live there and their cultures of each land. This Terroir is a principal concept to produce natural wine in GRAPEREPUBLIC.
The farmland and brewery facilities are set up in Nanyo City, Yamagata Prefecture where the hills are at the north and the fertile ground spread to the south.
A land suitable for making grapes, where it has a climate with an intense temperature gap, low humidity throughout the day and a smooth drain geology, but cultivation abandoned areas are noticeable here and there now.
By producing a high quality grape and natural wine from here, we would like to gather new farmers or new wineries and revitalize the increasing abandoned farmland. Eventually, collaborations with famous products of Nanyo City or agribuserism will also be developed, and form a big winemaking area like “Grape Republic” throughout the city. That is our concept.
One of the phrases that expresses natural wine of GRAPEREPUBLIC is “Made of 100% Grapes”, we use only the grapes from Nanyo City climate and add nothing else.
Progress of grape cultivation is the same, we do not use any pesticides such as herbicides or insecticides, as well as fertilizers or antioxidants, never adding any sugar or acid, yeast is natural one only.
The acid around the seeds is essential to make wine that the reason we do not treat gibberellin. Whole progress is covered with a sound eco-cycle.
Regardless of appearance or ease of eating, it is a possible method because those grapes are seeking only taste and sugar contents to produce good wine. Grapes harvest was only 100 kg in 2015, and it became 40tons with surrounding farmers cooperation in 2017. It is expected to increase further in the future.
After two years of construction period, the brewery facility was completed at the end of September 2017. A major feature of the facility is a terra cotta pot imported directly from Spain, 17 Amphora.
After dividing the harvested grapes into fruits and branches with a sorting machine, save the foot crushed fruits in Amphora. Seal the pot with the carbon dioxide gas to avoid another fungus affection will ferment itself to become wine.
Manufacturing method by Amphora has existed about 8000 years ago, but since it is suitable for making natural wine, it has recently been revived.
In GRAPEREPUBLIC, we use stainless steel tanks as well, but amphora is the main. This is one of the expression reason of “more viney than the grape itself”. Please feel this natural flavor with your five senses.”
都美人酒造 (Miyakobijin Shuzō)
秋鹿酒造 (Akishika Shuzō)
Most sake brewers buy their rice – some from contracted farmers, most from unknown sources. “From our own fields to bottle” is the motto of Akishika Shuzō, where 6th-generation kuramoto Oku Hiroaki made a decision to take the brewery as close as it gets to being self-sustained for rice production.
At present, the brewery farms 25 hectares of biodynamically grown rice, sacrificing high yields for superior quality and taste. Breaking with the production methods of postwar Japan and going against the trend of the time, Oku-san was one of the initial pioneers of junmaishu, sake made without any additives; and in 2009, he achieved the goal of the brewery’s entire production being made that way. Akishika ages a big part of their production until it reaches perfect drinking condition, allowing them to offer an unrivaled variety of matured sake.
Using their unique fermentation method of dissolving a very high portion of the fermentation rice into the brew while maintaining low amino acid levels, Akishika’s sake is medium-bodied yet very flavorful, complex, and layered.
寺田本家 (Terada Honke)
Established in 1670, Terada Honke made a decision about 30 years ago to part ways with the industrial brewing methods of postwar Japan and take sake back to its roots. 24th-generation kuramoto Terada Masaru is following in his predecessor’s footsteps, leading a brewery where the whole incredibly labor-intensive process is done by hand. The rice used is all organic, and most of it is polished far less than the average in the industry. Fermentation relies on brewery propagated kōji (a rarity) and either kimoto or bodaimoto fermentation methods, which when combined with the little-polished rice, results in tastes that are bold, full-bodied, and expressive with a signature high presence of lactic acid.
向井酒造 (Mukai Shuzō)
Located in the picturesque seaside village of Ine, with the brewery situated right on the water’s edge, Mukai Shuzō’s production is entirely junmaishu. The brewing is headed by Mukai Kuniko, one of Japan’s first female tōji, and one of the most creative altogether. Her ability to envision taste and her incredible technical prowess mean that she can construct sake flavors that are stunning and groundbreaking.
美吉野醸造 (Miyoshino Jōzō)
Fourth-generation kuramoto Hashimoto Teruaki became the tōji at Miyoshino Jōzō in 2008, and has since turned it into one of Japan’s most innovative and creative breweries. Hashimoto sees sake brewing as part of the local agriculture, working closely with nearby farmers and adjusting his sake to the rice they grow, not the other way around, as it is in most breweries. Brewing methods are very creative and rely entirely on natural yeast, with an ethos of “helping” nature do its work. The resulting sake is full-bodied, layered, rich in umami and acidity.