Under the law of Hong Kong, intoxicating liquor must not be sold or supplied to a minor (under 18) in the course of business.

Japanese Wine

Visiting Japanese Wineries ~Experiencing Japan through Wine~

Natural Farm Group
~Part I Introduction of the Winemaker~

13-49 Higashimachi, Niki-chou, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido

  • Mr. Kei Kikuchi
  • About
    Mr. Ichiro Ueda

    CEO of Natural Farm Group Co., Ltd.

    Although born in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Mr. Ueda spent his junior high and high school years in California due to his father’s work. After returning to Japan, he attended university and worked for an IT company in Tokyo as an engineer. He frequently visited Hokkaido for work and rediscovered the beauty of the local area, rich in nature. A friend gave him a field and blueberry plants, and he and his wife decided to start an organic farm. He founded Natural Farm Co., Ltd. in 2000 then later established Natural Farm Group Co., Ltd. with Very Berry Farm & Winery Niki as their vinifying division in 2008. In 2020, he started a second winery under Natural Food Group, Domaine Ichi, to produce natural wine, but eventually the two wineries will merge into Domaine Ichi.

  • Domaine Ichi with Mr. Ueda
    Domaine Ichi with Mr. Ueda
  • About Natural Farm Group Co., Ltd.

    Organic Fruits and Vegetables

    Mr. Ueda has been interested in organic farming ever since California and his health-conscientious wife insists on natural foods. They decided to start an organic farm in Hokkaido with a dream, “We want to produce fruits and vegetables that are good for the body.” Later, to start winemaking, he established Natural Farm Group with Very Berry Farm & Winery Niki in 2008.

    Due to their strong commitment to organic, they became the first company in Japan to obtain an organic wine certification in 2011. When Very Berry Farm & Winery Niki became too small, he established Domaine Ichi, which bears his name, in 2020. In recent years, he has been striving for more natural wines to keep things as natural as possible, not only in viticulture but also in vinification.

  • Mr. Ueda’s Favorite Pinot Noir Vineyard
    Mr. Ueda’s Favorite Pinot Noir Vineyard
  • Blessed Environment for Growing Fruit Trees

    Natural Farm Group’s fields are located in Yoichi and Niki, Hokkaido. This area is on the Sea of Japan and relatively warm. Hokkaido is largely associated with the production of fruits and vegetables, but fruit trees can only grow in four areas: Hakodate, Soubetsu, Mashike, and Yoichi/Niki. Of these, the Yoichi/Niki area produces the most fruit.

    In addition, Yoichi and Niki experience a lot of snowfall which proves to be an important factor for wine grapes. Vitis vinifera varieties are susceptible to frost damage, so during the winter months,

    their support wires are removed, and the vines are buried under snow to insulate them from freezing. In areas where there is no snow, it would be a daunting task to bury the vines under soil, but in this area, it is a simple matter of removing the vines from the wire and burying them under snow.

    Mountain and Sea
    Windswept Vineyards
    of Pinot Noir

    In Yoichi and Niki, the wind blows from the southwest from the mountains nearly every day. Some of Natural Farm Group’s Pinot Noir is grown in the mountains on a small hill, where the wind blows from both the mountains and the sea. This is the vineyard that Mr. Ueda favors the most.

    “From the top of this field, we can see the ocean. The wind blows from both the sea and the mountains. There are no obstacles in the way, so the wind blows unhindered from both directions. Thanks to this, the Pinot Noir is growing well without getting sick. I love this scenery so much that I come to the field early every morning when I wake up to the sound of birds.” Mr. Ueda said.

    Using the Power of IT to Make Organic Farming Smoother

    To facilitate organic farming, sensors have been installed in each field to monitor temperature, humidity, and solar radiation.

    Looking at the data from the Natural Farm Group fields, we can see that the accumulated temperature is increasing every year. With global warming, the crops that can be produced are changing compared to 20 years ago. For example, persimmons, which were not supposed to ripen in this area, are now ripening, and in terms of wine grapes, some people are planting Tempranillo.

    Measured Integrated Temperature by Sensor
    Measured Integrated Temperature by Sensor

Basic Data

Wine Production Started:2010
Own Vineyard Area:30 ha (including fruit and vegetable fields)
Annual Production:25,000 bottles

Main White Wine Grape Varieties:
Niagara, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc

Main Red Wine Grape Varieties:
Pinot Noir, Yama-Budou (Vitis Coignetiae), Bijou Noir, Yamasachi, Campbell Early, Portland, Tabiji