Yamanashi Prefecture is home to many wineries. A number of these wineries are open for tours and wine tasting. On a recent trip we passed Manns Wines as we were heading for Erinji, and decided to stop and investigate.
Location and access
The winery is situated in Katsunuma, surrounded by vineyards and peach orchards, about 15 minutes by car from the Katsunuma Interchange. However it might be better to go by train, and take a 7 minute taxi ride from Enzan JR Station, then nobody has to miss out on tasting the wines because they are driving. If you are driving, you will have to stick with juice, however my driver didn’t mind at all. He said it was delicious.
The winery is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day except for Year End and New Year holidays. Our spur of the moment visit was in spring, however the best time of year would be mid to late autumn, when the vines are loaded with ripe grapes and wine production is in full swing.
The tour began with a movie, but sadly there was no English support, so I recommend you try to visit with a Japanese friend who can interpret for you. My friend said the movie explained the history of the winery, which began in Katsunuma, but now has another winery in Komoro in Nagano Prefecture, where the bulk of the company’s production now takes place. The company is part of the Kikkoman family, and their premium wines are branded with the Solaris label.
After the movie, a guide led us around the grounds. Huge white vats for fermenting the wine stand behind the buildings, but because it was spring, they were empty and idle. I think there would be a lot more to see in autumn.
Next we entered the museum, a long room where various wine making equipment such as a wine press, wine corks and things made from corks, and medals and awards won by Manns wines were displayed.
I was a little disappointed in the cellars, which didn’t seem to contain that much. I suppose I was expecting something like the magnificent cellars at Yamazaki Whiskey Distillery.
Wine tasting and store
The final stop was the store, where we could taste a number of wines and also delicious fruit juices. I understand that there is a paid tour available for 500 yen, which allows you to taste a greater range of wines. In that case, the 500 yen is refundable if you purchase something in the store. However we took the free tour, and I was still able to taste many different wines.
I’ve heard that many Japanese prefer sweet wines, and most of the wines I tasted were indeed rather sweet, although there was one reasonable dry variety. Personally I enjoy both sweet and dry wines, and I ended up happily purchasing a bottle of yuzu flavored wine.
I don’t recall seeing it, but apparently there is a barbecue restaurant at the winery where you can enjoy a meal accompanied by Manns wine or juice.