An hour and a half outside Tokyo lies the wine world's best-kept secret: the Koshu Valley. Framed by Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps, the area enjoys dramatic vistas and long hours of sunshine, with 70 wineries nestled in a valley blanketed with grapes. The flagship wine is an elegant, crisp white wine from the eponymous Koshu grape.
Grapes arrived in Japan from Europe a thousand years ago along the Silk Road. Mystery surrounds the origins of formal viticulture but one thing is undisputed - it all began in Katsunuma in the heart of the Koshu Valley.
Winemaking in Japan began in the late 19th Century to satisfy a new-found interest in Western tastes. Many of the leading Koshu winemakers are descended from these pioneers, splitting their passions between the indigenous Koshu grape and more recently planted European and American varieties.
Good wine begets good food, and healthy Japanese, French and fusion cuisine can be found in and around the wineries, perfectly placed between stops on a walking tour in the valley or perched in the surrounding hills.
See the sun go down over the snow-capped Japanese Alps and rise to reveal Mt. Fuji above the mist - Katsunuma in the Koshu Valley was once a stop for Edo period feudal lords on their way to and from Tokyo on the Koshu Kaido.
Express trains run several times a day from Shinjuku in Tokyo direct to Katsunumabudokyo or Enzan in the Koshu Valley, allowing for an easy day trip from the capital. Travel times are comparable by car, taking an hour and a half from central Tokyo in clear traffic.