The town of Katsunuma () in the Kofu basin is an important center of Japanese wine making, being the birthplace of the Japanese wine industry. Today the area remains the top producer of wines that are made using only Japanese grapes, and it is a popular tourist destination with a large concentration of wineries at which visitors can buy, taste and learn about many aspects of Japanese wine.

The Kofu basin has a long history of grape cultivation. The Koshu grape that is used to produce much of the region's wine is thought to have arrived in Japan over a thousand years ago. Wine making began in the area in the 19th century, led by individuals who brought back skills learned in Europe. With high amounts of sunshine, the Kofu basin is well suited to vinicluture relative to others areas in Japan, and now there are over 70 wineries in Katsunuma and the surrounding region.

Inside one of the wineries' wine-tasting areas

The region's wineries range widely in what they offer visitors. Many operate shops that sell the winery's products and offer wine tasting, while a few also conduct tours of the winery or offer workshops about the different aspects of wine. Below is a list of some of the area's more notable wineries and wine-related attractions:

Chateau Mercian

Hours: 9:30 to 16:30
Tours: 1000 yen (60 minutes)
Closed: Tuesdays and New Year holidays
Access: 45 minute walk or 5-10 minute taxi ride from Katsunumabudokyo Station
Chateau Mercian is one of the oldest wineries in Japan. Tours of the winery with wine tastings are held in Japanese (advance reservations required). In addition, there is an atmospheric museum that recounts the history of the company and Japanese wine making, and a cafe selling wine, food and soft drinks.

Miyakoen

Hours: 9:30 to 16:30
Admission: 200 yen
Closed: Tuesdays (or next day if Tuesday is a holiday), New Year holidays
Access: Located next to the Chateau Mercian (see above)
Miyakoen is the winery that was established by one of the men who introduced wine making to Japan. Visitors can enter the main building which used to serve as a residence but has now been turned into a museum about wine making.

Budo no Oka

Wine cellar hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (entry until 17:00)
Wine cellar: 1500 yen
Closed: No closing days
Access: 20-30 minute walk or short taxi ride from Katsunumabudokyo Station
Located on a hill overlooking the Kofu plain, this complex is not a winery, but it offers a wine cellar in which, for a fee, visitors can enter and sample around 200 varieties of wine. In addition, the complex offers a shop, restaurant, hotel and onsen.

L'Orient

Hours: 8:30 to 17:30 (Apr to Dec), 8:45 to 17:00 (Jan to Mar)
Tours: Free or 1300 yen
Closed: Irregular holidays and New Year holidays
Access: One hour walk or 10 minute taxi ride from Katsunumabudokyo Station
A winery with a wide variety of offerings, including winery tours (short free tours are held a few times per day; longer, paid tours require advance reservations), wine tasting and workshops. There is also a shop where visitors can buy wine.

Haramo

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Access: 20-30 minute walk or 5 minute taxi ride from Katsunumabudokyo Station
A quaint winery in picturesque surroundings with a wine shop where visitors can taste and buy wine.

Access

Important note: Japan enforces a strict zero-tolerance drinking and driving policy.

The Katsunuma area is located on the eastern edge of the Kofu Plain, 20-25 minutes by train from Kofu Station. The area is served by two stations along the frequently operating JR Chuo Line: Enzan Station (320 yen one way from Kofu) and Katsunumabudokyo Station (410 yen from Kofu). Unfortunately, most wineries are not located within easy walking distance of the stations, and buses operate only very infrequently.

There are two loop bus lines that connect the two train stations with selected wineries and attractions in the area, but they operate only once every 1-3 hours, making them close to impractical for getting around. Alternatively, most wineries are located within 15 minutes and 2000 yen by taxi from Katsunumabudokyo Station.

Rental cars are available from outlets around Kofu Station; however, a dedicated driver will be required because of Japan's strict drunk driving laws.

How to get to and around Kofu