With the removal of tariffs on European wines as soon as next year, Mercian Corp. is betting on Japanese grapes to weather the onslaught.

Mercian, the country's biggest and oldest vintner, is nearly doubling its vineyards on expectations that its niche grapes — grown in a small area in the shadow of Mount Fuji — will increase sales both at home and overseas. The Kirin Holdings unit is seeking to bolster market share ahead of the implementation of a trade agreement removing tariffs on European Union wines that are as high as ¥182 a liter.

The Japan-EU deal lowers barriers just as U.S. President Donald Trump's shunning of such deals helps stoke a wave of protectionism that's disrupted the trade of commodities and consumer goods. Japan is a growing wine market, with consumption surging this decade and exports climbing threefold last year. Mercian uses Koshu grapes, a white variety first cultivated in Japan in the 12th century and used in winemaking for more than 100 years, and Muscat Bailey A, a red variety developed eight decades ago.