Wine Explorers Discovers Asia, January and February 2017

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Wine Explorers Discovers Asia, January and February 2017

AWPA was very pleased to be able to arrange a series of winery visits across Asia for Jean-Baptiste Ancelot, the founder of the ground-breaking Wine Explorers initiative that is performing the crucial role of opening up the less well understood wine regions of the world to the broader global audience.

Jean-Baptiste’s Asia tour began when he joined the AWPA tour of member wineries in India, in January. Following this he had extensive exposure to Thailand wineries, with the aid of GranMonte’s winemaker, Nikki Lohitnavy, as well as wineries in Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. His reports on visit can be found on the Wine Explorers website. Here are the links to the specific reports from this trip:






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Denis Gastin was invited to deliver the keynote address to the Hokkaido Wine Academy’s Conference in Sapporo on 8 June.  The theme of his address was an overview and update of the wine sector in Asia and putting Japan (the region’s second largest producing nation), and specifically Hokkaido, in context.


It also provided the opportunity for him to introduce the AWPA to delegates and to speak about other initiatives to raise the profile of Asian wines both within the region and internationally.

Daejeon Wine & Spirits Fair 2017

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Daejeon Wine & Spirits Fair

The AWPA at a Booth at the Fair this year, the third time that we have exhibited.  The wines we presented to visitors to the Booth were from the following members – with each member providing three different wines to demonstrate the varietal and style diversity:

  • GranMonte
  • Silverlake
  • Village Farm
  • Chateau Mercian
  • Grand Coteau
  • Grover/Zampa

Of the 986 visitors to the stand over the two days, 94 were international (mostly exhibitors, buyers, academics and media) and 892 were locals (mostly tasters, but including a significant number of buyers, exhibitors and media).

Asian Wine Review 2017

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The 2017 edition of Eddie McDougal’s Asian Wine Review was launched and awards presented to wineries at a Gala Dinner in Honk Kong on 19 April 2017.  This initiative is rapidly building power as an active instrument to raise the profile of Asian wines – building awareness and confidence among consumers within the region and attracting global attention.  See:


It is also being well patronised by AWPA members, and their outstanding wine making achievements have been endorsed with many Awards.  Hatten Wines won The Winery of the Year award for 2017.  It also won the Best Sparkling award.  This is just the 2nd edition and entries almost trebled, to total 299 wines, from over 100 wineries.  It is published in three languages – English, Chinese and Japanese.


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Grapes have been grown in Japan for making wine for over 150 years. There are wild mountain grapes that are indigenous, but were not used for wine making until the 1970s. Vitis Vinifera grapes arrived in Japan around 1300 years ago, carried along the Silk Road through China. But they were not used for wine making until the late 1800s.

In the past 30 years a modern winemaking industry has progressively emerged and extended to new regions Japan. Now there is significant winemaking in 12 Prefectures – extending from the far North island of Hokkaido to the southern island of Kyushu, with climate ranging from extreme cold to subtropical.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries statistics show a total surface area of vineyards for the production of wine totalling 2,389 hectares in 2015, producing 22,541 tonnes of grapes for winemaking.

The number of wineries now stands at 243 nationally. Of these, 81 wineries are in Yamanashi Prefecture, 32 are in Nagano Prefecture, 28 in Hokkaido Prefecture and 12 in Yamagata prefecture.

The most widely planted grape variety is Koshu, the Vitis Vinifera variety that arrived in Japan about 1300 years ago being carried across the Silk Road through China. Today it represents 17% of the wine grape vineyard area nationally. The other varieties accounting for significant proportions of national wine grape vineyards are table grape varieties introduced from North America or hybrids deriving from crossings of these varieties with local grapes or imported Vitis Vinifera grapes. Among the white grapes in this category, the largest plantings are of Niagara (11.8%) and Delaware (7.6%); of the red grapes the largest plantings are of Muscat Bailey A (15.2%), Concord (7.1%) and Campbell Early (5.6%).

Of the classic European varieties, the most widely planted white grapes are Chardonnay (4.8%) and Kerner (1.9%); for red grapes they are Merlot (5.4%) Cabernet Sauvignon (2.1%) and Zweigeltrebe (1.5%).

In addition, there are expanding plantings of varieties that are crossings of the indigenous wild mountain grapes and classic Vitis Vinifera varieties – notably, Yamabudo (1.3%), Black Queen (1.3%) and Yama Sauvignon (1.0%).