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Japanese giant advises smaller rivals

Tokyo-based wine producer Mercian Corporation has set up a consulting business to assist start-up wineries…

 

Château Mercian’s senior winemaker, Katsuhisa Fujino, guides workers at Akiu Winery

Japanese giant advises smaller rivals
  • Chris Boiling
  • 2022-10-04
Mercian Corporation, one of Japan’s leading wine producers and distributors, is sharing its knowledge and experience with start-up wineries. The aim is to raise the quality of the newcomers’ grapes and wines, leading to a sustainable wine industry in Japan.
Mercian, whose brands include Château Mercian, is doing this through a consulting business that will provide technical support for wine grape cultivation, winemaking, production, as well as a wide range of marketing and sales services to help wineries meet their specific challenges.
Michio Nagabayashi, president of Mercian Corporation, told Canopy: “Mercian’s vision is to make Japan recognised as one of the world's foremost wine regions. One way to do this is to support the increasing number of wineries in Japan to expand the wine market.
“The number of wineries in Japan has grown approximately 1.5-fold over the last five years. However, many of these wineries are very small and opportunities to learn the art of winemaking are limited domestically.
“In order to help solve this issue, we started a consulting business for start-up wineries, utilising our experienced human resources and 145 years of winemaking experience. In the future, we will not only support these wineries, but also aim to become a pipeline for the sustainable growth of the Japanese wine industry.”

‘We aim to become a pipeline for the sustainable growth of the Japanese wine industry’
So far, the consulting services are being provided to four wineries in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. They are:

MK_Farm_Kobushi_Winery
  • MK Farm Kobushi (Michinoku Kubota Group, above), which harvests 3 tons of grapes such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon in Iwate Prefecture. The five-year-old company is getting advice in identifying grapes and finding the right contract winery and protocol to turn them into top-quality wines.
Art_Paysan_Winery
  • Art Paysan Winery (above), also in the Iwate Prefecture, produces 4,000L from varieties such as Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, and Muscat Bailey A. Started in April 2019, Art Paysan Winery is receiving guidance on picking dates and realising the grapes’ full potential.
Akiu_Winery
  • Akiu Winery (above), in the Miyagi Prefecture, produces 30,000L from varieties such as Koshu, Chardonnay, Muscat Bailey A, Delaware, and Merlot. Akiu is receiving advice on canopy management (optimal defoliation and control methods, etc), guidance on the proper preparation of grapes according to their condition, and quality control methods for the juice.
Minami_Sanriku_Winery
  • Minami Sanriku Winery (above), also in Miyagi Prefecture, produces 20,000L from varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Established in February 2019, it is the newest company to sign up for Mercian’s consultancy services and the companies are in the early stages of deciding the areas for consultation.
Tokyo-based Mercian, part of the giant brewing and pharmaceutical company Kirin Holdings, believes there could be significant demand for its new services as most new wineries in Japan are low-profit and small, and there are limited places for people to learn about viticulture and winemaking.
The man leading the consultancy service is Château Mercian’s senior winemaker, Katsuhisa Fujino (below), who joined Mercian in 1979 and has also worked in Bordeaux (at Château Reysson).

Mercian - Fujino

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