iEXPerience Program: Discovering Koshu Wine

iCLA students joined a tour of Lumiere Winery, open since 1885 in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi.

iCLA’s exchange and short-term study abroad students visited Yamanashi’s famous 130-Year-Old Lumiere Winery as part of the iEXPerience Program. The iEXPerience Program is a series of field trips around Yamanashi to experience and understand the unique charms of the prefecture’s culture. The program is designed to offer a memorable learning experience outside of the classroom, such as practicing tea ceremony in a historical temple or waterfall training like Heian Era Shugendo practitioners.

Yamanashi is famous as the wine capital of Japan, being the biggest producer of wine in Japan. The “Koshu” variety of grape is especially popular for making wine, and typically, the wine produced from Koshu grapes in the Yamanashi region is called “Koshu wine”. Koshu wine, which name is derived from the old name of Yamanashi Prefecture, is especially favored by Japanese people because they pair well with Japanese cuisine.

In this event led by iCLA’s Study Abroad Team, students visited Lumiere Winery located in Fuefuki City, a family-owned winery that has been operating since 1885. Lumiere Winery produces several wines and sparkling wines using Koshu grapes.

In a tour led by Iwama-san, the head of production, students were shown the process of how wine is produced at Lumiere Winery. The tour started from the vineyard, where the grapes used in the wine are grown. The soil in Yamanashi is ideal for winemaking, and Lumiere Winery puts care into cultivating their grapes so that they can grow to their full potential. Lumiere wine which have won medals in top competitions in Europe attests to that. Students were invited to taste the Koshu grapes for themselves.

Afterward, students proceeded to the winery where the grapes are processed and turned into wine. A special portion of the wine is fermented in the winery’s “Ishigura”. Built in 1901, it was the first stone fermentation tank in Japan, used to ferment large quantities of wine in a time when stainless tanks were not invented yet. The final stop of the tour was the underground wine cellar, where more than 300 barrels of wine are stored at a controlled temperature.

Finally, students visited Lumiere Winery’s on-site winery shop selling Lumiere Winery’s original wines. A tasting machine featuring more than 12 varieties of wine was also available in-store, so students could enjoy wine tasting.

In this event, students were able to see the process of winemaking starting from grapes in the vineyard, to fermentation and storage, and finally a bottled and labeled product in the store.

“I learned that Japan uses western methods along with traditional Japanese methods to create delicious wines. My favorite part was being able to taste the wine that I learned about.”

Maya, iCLA Exchange Student

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