Jan 17, 2009

First Blush

The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.
- Sun Tzu

As with all adventures, many issues crop up after the first blush of excitement wears off. Weather, for one. Japan (where we live) has the perfect climate for a litany of mouthwatering treats, but wine is not one of them. High humidity and a long wet tsuyu (monsoon) season make it difficult for grapes, which are prone to fungal attacks. Then there is the land problem. Tokyo is like New York -- a concrete jungle, all office and condo buildings, with scarcely a patch of dirt for gardening. Both K and I are blessed with balconies, so we do have space, just not ideal space. Grapes grown in containers tend to vine profusely, but bear little fruit.

Not exactly ideal conditions for embarking on a new venture. However, we weren't setting out to make the next Opus One or Screaming Eagle; just a nice organic table red for pleasant evenings. In Italy, for instance, where many families have their own vegetable patch, villages will pitch in grapes from their gardens to make a village wine, which is shared by all.

So, while K capered off to Hong Kong for the week, I busied myself in buying books and googling winemaking sites.

Books (thank goodness for Amazon for us living abroad):
The Way To Make Wine, by Sheridan Warrick
From Vines to Wines , by Jeff Cox
The Grape Grower: A Guide to Organic Viticulture
, by Ron Lombaugh

Some interesting sites:
On basic winemaking (including other fruits and flowers; perhaps we should make a rose wine too?).
On home bottling.
A winery in Yamanashi -- apparently some Japan wines have won awards recently. We'll have to go visit.


  1. Not sure when your first release will be, but may I sign up to your mailing list! :-)

  2. Mais bien sur! Although I can't vouch it will be drinkable :)

  3. Are you going you going to buy a vineyard in Italy? Since you have time, you can just go and hang out and learn it first hand. I think there are places you can volunteer.