Japan offers a variety of wines, from inexpensive brands to high-end quality bottles. Up until 1980, mainly grapes indigenous to the country (Koshu) were used, but since then, European grapes have been introduced to the process, which created new tasting wines. As many travelers will attest, a fun way to enjoy sampling a variety of great wines is to stay overnight at or near the winery!
One of the most famous regions for wines in Hokkaido is Furano; however, the production of grapes and wine is not limited to just Furano and has spread all around the prefecture. Unique winery stays are now offered even in Sapporo - the capital of Hokkaido.
Here, we introduce two unique winery stay experiences in the northernmost prefecture of Japan.
(Main image credit: HITOHANA)
Why Hokkaido Wine?
According to the National Tax Agency, in 2021, Hokkaido ranked first in Japan in acreage for cultivating winemaking grape varieties, and third in Japan for wine production after Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures.
Unlike European wines, Japanese wines are known to contain less organic acid salt, and are said to be more compatible with fish and shellfish, which Japan - and especially Hokkaido - are famous for. Due to Hokkaido’s cold and snowy climate, cold-hardy grapes such as Crimson Glory withstand through winter.
Nowadays, with advanced wine-making abilities, other grapes that are found in Europe, such as German and French varieties, can now be grown in Hokkaido as well. For white wines, Kerner and Niagara, and for red, Yamasachi and Pinot Noir are cultivated. Read more about Japanese wine in our article here.
1. HITOHANA (Furano): Stylish stay in Hokkaido wine country!
HITOHANA is located in Furano, which is perhaps the first region most people think about when it comes to wine in Hokkaido. Furano is known for its lavender fields, as well as vast fields full of various flowers, such as poppies, lilies, and sunflowers. In the winter, it is also well-equipped with ski resorts.
Overlooking its beautiful vineyard, HITOHANA offers relaxing and stylish hotel options and condominiums, which can also be used as a workation location with a change of pace. This winery getaway also won the Rakuten Travel Bronze Award in 2021. Accommodation plans also include buffet breakfast and dinner, as well as access to Domaine Raison Winery and Vineyard.
HITOHANA mainly offers German-type wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Karuna, Mila Puluga, and Pinot Gris. The concept of the meals here is “bistro style” while using fresh Furano and Hokkaido’s local ingredients, especially vegetables. Meat and seafood are served to the highest regard, though vegetarian options can also be arranged. The vineyard on-site, Domaine Raison, also offers delicious meal experiences at Salon de Raison.
Free one-hour winery tours are available for guests, with the tours limited to 15 staying guests a day. The structure of the tour includes a visit to the Domaine Raison Winery, a ten-minute ride away (transportation provided), where guests will learn about the passionate work of the wine-makers on-site.
The beautiful vineyard spreads across the fields of grapes, and guests can also enjoy visiting the goats that live here, who contribute to the sustainability efforts of the vineyard. The tour concludes with wine-tasting of eight different types of wine.
About Domaine Raison
Domaine Raison prides itself in maximizing the individuality of grapes. Here, there are two vineyards.
First is the Nakafurano Vineyard in Nakafurano Town, just ten minutes away from the accommodation.
What started as the Raison Hokkaido Project in 2016 has now grown into 32 hectares of grapes harvested for wine. The soil here is influenced by the eruption of Tokachidake that caused the magma to crush finely and cool rapidly.
The thin soil drains well due to the slope that the vineyard rests on and is expected to get better over time. The types of grapes grown here are: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Zweigelt Lebe, Kerner, Müller-Thurgau, and Auxerrois.
Additionally, Furano Vineyard is 30-minutes by car from Nakafurano Town along the Sorachi River. Five types of grapes are cultivated here: Kerner, Müller-Thurgau, Zweigelt Lebe, Chardonnay, and Merlot.
Sustainable practices at Domaine Raison
Domaine Raison strives to create a “sustainable energy cycle” using the power of nature and even the goats who reside here.
Immerse yourself in tranquil nature at the vineyard and enjoy dining at Grill & Farmer Restaurant Yagi (Goat) Café, which serves ice cream and parfaits using goat milk, as well as steak using 100% Hokkaido beef. Meatloaf, curry, and roast beef are some of the other specialties, but guests can also choose from a wide range of pizzas and hors d’oeuvres.
The Boutique also features sustainably curated products, such as original wines from the vineyard. For those who are curious about their product lineup can also visit their online shop, Salon de Raison, for a wide range of their offerings.
HITOHANA can be accessed via car, bus, or train, in just over an hour from Asahikawa Airport and Asahikawa Station, and two hours from Sapporo.
There are four English-speaking staff on-site.
Health & Safety measures:
HITOHANA adheres to the Go To Travel campaign guidelines to ensure health and safety for visitors.
Winery Hotel and Condominium HITOHANA
Kitanomine-cho 23-10, Furano, Hokkaido
2. Hakkenzan Winery Camp: Pair your wines with camping
(Credit: Hakkenzan Winery)
For those who want to get closer to nature without going too far from the city (with a drink in hand), Hakkenzan Winery Takibi Campsite offers easy access that still makes you feel like you’re in wine country. While located in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, the scenery is beautiful no matter what season of the year you go.
The microclimate and soils found near Mt. Hakkenzan are well known as suitable for wine growing and orchards. The site is proud of its own agricultural products and wines (HakkenzanTeroir) that can be enjoyed on your visit.
The site offers various types of accommodation: treehouse, camping car (must come with your own), and simple tents (rental equipment available). It is a family-friendly site that offers both privacy and communal atmospheres. With a designated forest area, you’re in for an outdoor experience without having to go too far from the major city. Both overnight and day-use plans are available.
(Credit: Hakkenzan Winery)
Here, you can enjoy about 30 different kinds of grapes used for wines, many of them a blend of their varieties. The Hakkenzan Kitchen & Marche onsite offers cuisine cooked with local ingredients such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and eggs.
Produce can also be bought onsite for you to cook on your own while camping. Hakkenzan Winery’s wine, HakkenzanTeroir, can be found here. Whether you drink it at your accommodation or at the restaurant, you can enjoy panoramic views of the mountain and vineyard.
There are convenient stores, shops, and hot spring onsens within a 10-minute drive from the site. Other popular camping activities such as a BBQ or a bonfire can be enjoyed with rentals or your own goods.
The Hakkenzan Gallery onsite also offers local artists’ work and has been open since 2020 as part of the winery facility and as a way to elevate local work to go along with local wines and produce. There is also a horse-riding facility next door called Wild Mustang’s to get a different feel for wilderness activities. For park golf lovers, the Hakkenzan Park Golf Course is nearby as well.
It is a 30-40 minute drive from central Sapporo. If you’re taking public transport, take the Jotetsu buses 7 and 8 at Sapporo rail road station, or 12 at Makomanai subway station to Jozankei Tozanguchi. The winery is 1.5km away, and takes 25 minutes by foot. Additionally, the Kappa Liner bus from Sapporo railroad station takes you to the nearest bus stop, Hakkenzan Chuoguchi, a 300 meter walk to the winery (available from May to October).
The website is in English and Japanese; however, there is no multilingual support onsite.
Health & Safety measures:
Hakkenzan Winey Camp follows the health & safety measure protocols given by the prefecture of Hokkaido.
150 Toyama, Minami Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 061-2275
Hakkenzan Chuoguchi Bus Stop
Whether you seek a wine country escape in luxury or in nature, these unique winery stays will be sure to satisfy your R&R experience. Hokkaido, already known for impeccably fresh seafood and abundant local produce, will allow you to enjoy lasting memories paired with wine.
Nina is a globe trotter and storyteller, constantly seeking adventures in her motherland of Japan. She's a collector of travel brochures, a lover of cats, and a half-daring foodie. She also likes to escape Tokyo city life from time to time to discover new trails in rural Japan, where she enjoys connecting with locals and wanderers alike. By profession, Nina is the co-author and editor of DUO Elements, a conversational English book series. Follow her on Instagram @nextstop_nina or Facebook @ninamcataldo.