Town raises a toast with wine law

Kyodo

In line with growing moves to promote regional alcoholic beverages, the municipal assembly in Furano, Hokkaido, has passed an ordinance urging its residents to raise a toast with its local speciality: Furano wine.

According to the Tokyo-based Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, the number of ordinances promoting local sake or “shochu” distilled spirits stood at about 30 in 2012.

Furano is probably the only municipality promoting wine.

The ordinance aims to popularize the practice of making toasts with wine and grape juice from locally cultivated grapes in hopes of helping the growers.

There is no penalty for “violating” the ordinance.

The city established the Furano City Grape Juice Research Station in 1972 to take advantage of its cool climate. Through the research station, various experiments to produce wine have been conducted in the city. Currently wine is produced at the Furano Wine and Juice Winery, a publicly run factory in the city’s Shimizuyama district.

Last year, the winery produced about 300,000 bottles of wine, including both reds and whites. Furano Grape Juice, a nonalcoholic drink, has meanwhile become popular with children and adults who can’t drink alcohol.

The Furano Tourism Association has said it wants to boost consumption of Furano wine among tourists, not just locals.