This northern prefecture maybe better known for its abundance of seafood and dairy but wine production in Hokkaido has been around since the 19605. Although considerably still a young wine-producing region, a number of Hokkaido wineries have won international accolades and many restaurants in the area are beginning to serve local wine to be paired with Hokkaido’s fresh cuisine. The Sorachi district in Hokkaido in particular experiences similar weather and soil conditions of various wine-growing regions in France. Housui Winery is one of the more established wineries in Hokkaido with its own vineyard that plants a variety of grapes, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties.
On a tour here, visitors can sample the Yuki no Keifu series of premium wines that are completely made with grapes harvested from its own vineyard. In summer, a specialty ice cream is served where its syrup topping is made from the discarded grape skins after wine production (alcohol-free so kids can have some too).
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Housui Winery is open daily except for Wednesdays from January to March. Reservations are necessaryto tour the winery or field.The cellar is well stocked and tasting sessions can also be arranged (housu i-winery.co.jp).
Thailand is one of the last places anyone would think of to be a wine-growing region. The tropical and humid climate has always been considered unsuitable for wine production but vineyards in Thailand are changing this notion. One of the first to gain world recognition is GranMonte Family Vineyard, which was founded by the Lohitnavy family in 2009 and is under the sole direction of Nikki Lohitnavy, Thailand’s first and only fully qualified oenologist. Wines from the GranMonte Estate are the most decorated in Thailand, having won more than a hundred awards in the past four years. There are a few varieties available and it is the whites, such as its Spring Chenin Blanc, Sole Chenin Blanc Viognier and GranMonte Viognier that are the most renowned.
The whites from GranMonte often feature notes of topical fruits like papaya, pineapple, and lime, which make them popular for wine pairing, especially with spicy Thai cuisine. Nikki continues to challenge herself in creating new varieties and has since developed Sabina Rosé Syrah, Bussaba Natural Sweet Wine Chenin Blanc Semillon and Muscat, and GranMote Cremant.
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OT here are daily tours that include a lap around thevineyard and winery, ending with wine tasting and a set lunch of dinner at the in-house VinCotto restaurant. February 2017 is GranMonte Harvest Month and tours booked during the month will also include a learning experience about tropical winemaking the by direction of Nikki Lohitnavy.The Annual Harvest Festival on 18-19 February also promises to be lots of fun for oenophiles with its buffet, free flow of wine and mini concert. Book a tour by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting granmonte.com
It is impossible to write about winemaking regions without at least mentioning Yarra Valley, the Australian wine region located east of Melbourne. Its cool climate is best known for producing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wine varieties. The undulating topography of the area divides the valley into two distinct subregions — Valley Floor and Upper Yarra, with each experiencing distinct soil and climate conditions.
Valley Floor is located nearer sea level and experiences warmer temperatures, while Upper Yarra has younger, fertile red soils and a cooler climate, which aid in the production of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Wine producers in Yarra Valley take their wine seriously and many will be hard-pressed to find any winery without an accolade. One of the most exceptional in Yarra Valley is Dominique Portet Winery, where the Portet family has been making wine for ten generations. Even more impressively, their beginnings c an be traced to Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in Bordeaux where founder Dominique had his first whiff of wine. Dominique moved to Yarra Valley when he discovered how similar the conditions were to that of his home in France. For decades since then, the winery has enjoyed great success, especially with its Fontaine Rosé, a wine described to be the bottled essence of summer berries.
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The cellar door is open daily, where visitors can order simple lunches with farm-to-table produce paired with their wines. There are also wine tastings, and tours of the barrel room and winery, as well as social events with the Portet family available throughout the year (dominiqueportet.com).