A Renewed Winery on Ruins

Flowers can always be grown on soil even if the quality is poor, the land has been devastated, or it has suffered in the past.

I found a winery in Akiu, Japan online a while ago. Its name was simple - the Akiu Winery. At that moment, I knew I had to go there. I took off immediately knowing that I could finally see winery I had constantly been thinking off.

I rode the Tohoku Shinkansen for an hour and a half to Sendai and then took a thirty minute bus to Akiu. The winery was then within sight. The entire building had a light gray color scheme. Its appearance wasn't like the winery I had imagined, boxy and dreary with the flowers nearby it seemingly out of place. But it may be exactly because of this that I could see it from so far away.

A Renewed Winery blog

A dog with funny eyebrows that looked like herding dog stared at me while drooling. His pose was even funnier.

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This was the winery I had been looking forward to. Upon entering, a casual atmosphere washed over me from head to toe. My tiredness from the journey disappeared with it. Although the furniture looks like it was placed randomly, it didn't feel cluttered. The thoughts and feelings of the owner seemed to be just what I was looking for.

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Unlike the wineries I had seen in the past, the Aiku Winery felt like the wine was drank as it was brewed. And what was served wasn't just wine, it was accompanied with snacks as well. Most of the foods in the winery are bacons, hams, breads, and cakes. The fruit in the alcohol gets rid of most of the puckeryness of it and maintains a fragrant, sour flavor. I have to admire the work the brewer put into it.

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Since I came, of course I had to try the wine. When I was there, there happened to be a wine sampling with each cup costing just 300 yen. I choose a glass of regular wine and a glass of rose wine with some toast. The wine was fermented in 2015 but wasn't too sour. It seemed a bit like fruit wine or cider, though the sourness of the wine was rather strong when compared to other kinds of alcohol. The taste was perfect after the toast. The excess acidity was actually absorbed by it and the aroma, slightly astringent taste, and perfect amount of acidity fit together perfectly, like listening to an unparalleled symphony.

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The taste of fruit wine isn't as stable as that of red wine. The three year old wine also has a different taste at every stage. Since the taste of the wine fermented in 2015 was so interesting, I knew I had to try wines from other years too. The store worker, however, told me that they only carried wine from 2015. It was so strange that I had to ask more about it. At that time, the worker told me that the store had just opened in 2015.

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At that point I felt pretty embarrassed. If I had known this would have happened, I would have looked into it more before I came. But the worker didn't think it was strange at all and told me about his original inspiration in opening the store. In 2011, the tsunami washed away a lot of places in Japan, including a winery in Yamamoto County. At the time, the winery was very famous in Yamamoto, capturing the taste buds of fans of wine connoisseurs. But since the tsunami, the winery workers and wine connoisseurs have been missing. The winery originally was planned to reopen in Yamamoto County, but the area still hasn't been restored. Therefore, Akiu, an area also afflicted by the tsunami, was selected as the location.

I didn't expect that this small winery would have this kind of background story. But looking out the window at the now thriving Akiu which was once hit by a tsunami, it's clear that the once crowded store and wine connoisseurs will definitely come back to the winery again.

Location: Sendai, Japan

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