Tradition Meets Innovation: The Champagne Method in Niseko
I had the distinct privilege of exploring the Hokkaido region earlier this month, where I visited a winery that produces organic sparkling wines with meticulous care.
Imagine a place where passion and craftsmanship meet, and organic sparkling wines are produced in the midst of breathtaking scenery.
This establishment, Niseko Winery, is a hidden gem in a region known for its harsh snowy wintery climate and the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. Led by a curious and visionary entrepreneur named Mr. Homma, his remarkable journey led him to cultivate and make wine in a place where no one had ever dared before.
At its core, the story of Mr. Homma and Niseko Winery carries a deeper meaning that transcends winemaking. It is a story of human resilience, the power of curiosity, and the pursuit of one’s passion against all odds.
Driven by his unwavering entrepreneurial vision, Mr. Homma embarked on a quest to unveil the secrets hidden within Niseko’s soil. He saw beyond the conventional limitations and believed that the unique climate and fertile land of the region held untapped potential for winemaking.
Producing organic sparkling wines using grapes grown in Niseko, the Winery adheres to the Champagne method of production, allowing secondary fermentation in the bottle for at least 18 months. This meticulous process creates a fine sparkling wine with long-lasting, fine bubbles and a balance of fruitiness and acidity, nurtured with dedication and devoid of synthetic pesticides.
The personal journey of Mr. Homma into winemaking is captivating. From zero winemaking knowledge, he relentlessly honed his skills and expanded his understanding of winemaking after experiencing European wine culture in London as a young man.
The 10-year journey to establish Niseko Winery was not without its hurdles. The difficulties of cultivating fruit trees in heavy Hokkaido snowfall and identifying grape varieties for Niseko’s climate tested Mr. Homma’s resolve. Despite these obstacles, he triumphed, creating grapevines that thrived in Niseko’s unique climate thanks to innovation and determination.
But the story doesn’t end there. Niseko Winery has sparked a revolution within the region’s winemaking community. Younger generations, inspired by Mr. Homma’s passion and accomplishments, have joined the movement, establishing their own vineyards and wineries. According to Japan’s Agricultural Center, as of 2023, there were over 20 organic certified wineries in Japan.
Of course Mr. Homma embraces this development wholeheartedly, aiming to expand the circle of wineries and contribute to the future development of the town.
In the end, wine is more than just a beverage. It has become a universal drink that transcends cultural and political barriers.
If your travels ever bring you to Japan, take time to discover Niseko Winery and experience the joy of their wines with Mr. Homma.