Kazumi Wines Introduces Koshu

Kazumi Wines, a Japanese American owned boutique winery in Napa Valley, is excited to announce the release of their 2021 Napa Koshu. The crisp, delicate white wine is made from the ancient Japanese Koshu grape, a novel varietal to North America, making Kazumi Wines Koshu the first of its kind to be produced in the United States.

Koshu, which first arrived in Japan over a thousand years ago via the Silk Road, is grown primarily in the Koshu Valley in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture.

The fruit is thick-skinned and hardy with a dusky pink hue that can produce a wide range of wines from delicate white to sparkling, to orange and even red wines. Napa Valley has a different terroir from Yamanashi, Japan, with a long, ideal growing season of warm days and cool nights. The Koshu grapes mature slowly and results in smaller, concentrated grapes compared to the grapes grown in Japan, making the Napa Valley version of Koshu quite different than the traditional Japanese Koshu, but no less drinkable.

“We are so excited to introduce Koshu to wine lovers in the United States,” says Kazumi Wines Founder Michelle Sakazaki. “Koshu will appeal to those that like more delicate white wines, such as Pinot Gris, or crisp, white wines with high acidity. It is also lower in alcohol, only 11.5%, and pairs well with all types of cuisines, but especially suited for seafood and Japanese dishes.”

The Koshu grape was discovered in the United States nine years ago by Japanese intern at Foundation Plant Services (FPS) at UC Davis. The original Koshu vines at FPS were donated to the United States 95 years ago from a Japanese university but were infested by two viruses and not usable. In 2014, FPS successfully cleaned the Koshu vines and made them available for propagation. In 2018, Kazumi Wines purchased those very Koshu canes from FPS and with the cooperation of some of the best growers in Napa Valley, grafted the canes and planted them in a few vineyards across Napa Valley.

Bringing Koshu, a varietal that represents her Japanese heritage, to the United States has been a labor of love for Sakazaki. In 2021, a ton of Koshu grapes were harvested from a vineyard in South Napa and 600 bottles produced for its inaugural release, which promptly sold out. The 2022 vintage is shaping up nicely in the vineyard and Sakazaki anticipates being able to produce up to 1,800 bottles/150 cases that will be sold by allocation only. 

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