Photography by Shogo Oizumi
Text by Tomoko Tsuyuki
Tilling the fields, crafting the wine, building a future
The fields at Camel Farm Winery have produced wine grapes for over four decades. Thanks to scrupulous management of the vines and vigilant monitoring of the ripening process as harvest approaches, the fruit is of superb quality, while the winemaking facility combines proven Italian traditions with the latest technology. Maintaining this fusion of so many critical elements is the day-to-day task of two teams—one in charge of grape cultivation and the other of winemaking—led by winery manager Ai Ito. All 10 team members are committed to the shared goal of producing world-class wines that are clean, safe, and eloquently expressive of the terroir of the vineyard.
“The quality of the grapes is far more important than the quantity,” says Ito. “We carefully manage the shoots and cultivate the optimum number of clusters per vine; if we want to make a clean, clear wine, we can’t allow a single diseased fruit. During harvest we closely inspect the picked grapes, sort them by hand, then take them right away into the processing facility. Selection and speed are essential for an aromatic, elegant product.”
The vineyard is planted on 16.2 hectares of south-facing hillside. The 10 grape varieties selected for cultivation there include Kerner, Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Noir, Regent, Blaufrankisch, and Zweigeltrebe. Fermentation methods and the blend of varieties used change from year to year depending on the condition of the harvested fruit, with constant adjustments to ensure a delicious product. At all times, showcasing the local terroir is a priority.
Camel Farm Winery possesses cutting-edge equipment for measuring sugar, acidity, and pH levels. The results are compiled and sent for detailed analysis to a laboratory in Riccardo Cotarella’s home country, Italy. Every step, from harvest to bottling, is timed in accordance with this data, which has proven an invaluable asset for the entire operation.
The finished product is sent out to liquor retailers, wine distributors, and stores that are part of the Camel Coffee Group. When it’s harvest time, staff from group subsidiaries arrive to help from all over Japan.
In this way the same team handles the entire process from harvest to sale. “What we’re doing is building the foundations for Camel Farm Winery, looking ahead to the future 50 or 100 years from now,” says Ito. “Our aim is to be a sustainable winery.”
This article is an excerpt from Kateigaho International Japan Edition 2020 Spring/Summer.