Visiting Hayashi Nouen (Goichi Wine)
～Part I Introduction of the Winemaker～
1298 -170 Souga, Shiojiri-shi, Nagano
Mr. Kei Kikuchi
Senior Managing Director of Hayashi Nouen Corp.
Mr. Kikuchi attended the Department of Brewing Science at Tokyo University of Agriculture. After graduation, Mr. Kikuchi joined Monde Winery Co., Ltd, where he was involved in the production of western liquors and wine. After that, he joined Snow Brand Milk Products Co., Ltd. and was involved from the start of the company's new domestic wine production plant. In 2001, he joined Hayashi Noen Corp. and has been mainly in charge of winemaking for the past 20 years. Including his experience at various other companies, he has a total of about 50 years of winemaking experience. He is also the chairman of the Nagano Appellation Control Committee, the chairman of the Nagano Prefecture Wine Association, and is dedicated to the development of wine in Nagano Prefecture as a whole. He is one of the main people who filed the petition for the “GI (Geographical Indication) Nagano" designation, and on June 30, 2021, wine from Nagano Prefecture finally received the GI designation from the secretary of Japan's National Tax Agency at the same time as sake.
About Hayashi Nouen Corp.
The Pioneer of Kikyougahara Merlot
Hayashi Nouen Corp. is a long-established winery that opened its vineyards in 1911 and began making wine in 1919. The founder, Mr. Goichi Hayashi, is known as the pioneer of Kikyougahara Merlot. Nowadays, Kikyougahara is well known in Japan as a famous Merlot producing area, and this is largely because of the achievements of Hayashi Nouen.
In 1951, Mr. Goichi Hayashi received Merlot branches from a vineyard in Yamagata Prefecture and planted them in Kikyougahara, which led to the expansion of Merlot cultivation in Kikyougahara. In addition, Mr. Goichi Hayashi was a disciple of Mr. Zenbei Kawakami, the father of Japanese wine, and has been growing Muscat Bailey A, a hybrid variety developed by Mr. Kawakami.
Today, there is still a Merlot vine on the farm that is over 65 years old, and 30 to 40 bottles of historically valuable wine are produced annually from the old vine, although in very small quantities (not for sale).
In recent years, more and more grape growers are seeking higher elevations to grow grapes. However, Kikyougahara Wine Valley, where Hayashi Nouen is located, is the birthplace of winemaking in Nagano Prefecture and is a unique area where grapes have been cultivated at high elevation for a long time. Hayashi Nouen's vineyard is located at 720 meters above sea level. In winter, the climate is favorable for viticulture with large temperature differences between day and night. In 2011, they opened their own five hectare vineyard, "Kakizawa Vineyard," in Kakizawa, Shiojiri, at 800 meters above sea level.
A Wide Variety of Grapes
“The volcanic ash, clay loam soil from the eruptions of Mt. Ontake and Mt. Norikura is ideal for Merlot because it retains water. Cabernet Franc is also well suited to the climatic conditions here, and recently I have been looking forward to Syrah, which has more character when made into wine. Kikyougahara is particularly good for black grapes," Mr. Kikuchi said.
They grow a wide variety of grapes in his vineyards including 19 varieties.
Wine Production Started: 1911
Own Vineyard Area: 15 ha
Contracted Farmers: Approx.100
Annual Production: 800,000 bottles
Main White Wine Grape Varieties:
Niagara, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Kerner, Ryugan, Koshu
Main Red Wine Grape Varieties:
Concord, Merlot, Muscat Bailey A, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Syrah