Yamanashi wines seek regional cachet


Hopes are growing that select wine made in Yamanashi Prefecture will earn wider global recognition after a National Tax Agency decision Tuesday designated “Yamanashi” as a geographical indication for wine.

Wine brands that meet strict criteria can now be called Yamanashi wine, following the decision, which was based on World Trade Organization rules.

A geographical indication is used to identify the origin, quality, reputation or other characteristics of products unique to a particular place.

The designation is a first for a Japanese wine.

The Yamanashi Prefecture Wine Manufacturers’ Association, based in Kofu, aims to capitalize on the designation to boost Yamanashi wine’s name recognition here and abroad.

To be allowed to carry the name of Yamanashi, wine needs to use only limited kinds of grape from Yamanashi, including Koshu and Yamanashi Muscat Bailey A, and be brewed and bottled in the prefecture.

If approved, wine for exports can be labeled as made in Yamanashi, instead of made in Japan at present.

Other domestic products with geographical indications include Hakusan, sake produced in Ishikawa Prefecture, Kuma, a brand of “shochu” distilled spirit in Kumamoto Prefecture and Ryukyu, a kind of “awamori” alcoholic beverage indigenous to Okinawa.

In France, Champagne, as well as Bourgogne and Bordeaux wine are examples of geographical indications.

Ahead of the tax agency’s designation, the Yamanashi wineries’ body examined wine quality in accordance with the criteria and approved 55 brands as Yamanashi wine.