Known for its remoteness and beautiful nature, the Noto Peninsula by the Sea of Japan is a place where people live with the blessings of nature. In such a beautiful coastal area, one of the best wineries by the seashore, Heidee Winery has vineyards that overlook the Sea of Japan, and produces wines that taste of sun and sea.
Blessing from the Sea
Yamanashi, Nagano, Hokkaido, and Yamagata are widely known for their wine production. Little is it known, however, that Noto is actually famous for producing not just wine, but also beer, shochu, and sake. Taking advantage of the climate, the weather of Noto, and nutrient-rich soil from the ocean, grapes produced here are unlike any other. The salt in the air changes the acidity level in the grapes and leads to a milder taste. Also, little precipitation in the area from Spring to Autumn makes the grapes reach full maturity.
The climate in the Noto peninsula may be stable during the summer season. But it becomes very harsh in winter with heavy snowfalls between December and March. Some may question whether the terroir is suitable for winemaking. However, harvesting is up until fall before the snowy season and won’t affect its production. Furthermore, as if to defy the odds of the Hokuriku region’s high humidity, the vineyards at Heidee Winery are located on elevated slopes just off the coast which allows for good ventilation and drainage. These geographical advantages make it a perfect place for winemaking.
Founded in 2012, on a lush green hilltop in a valley embracing the vast ocean, Heidee Winery produces different types of Japanese wine including red, white, and rose from six grape varieties; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, and Albarino. No herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used but just the appropriate organic compost like lactic acid bacteria and rice husks. These are added to prepare the soil and thoroughly optimizes the yield and quality.
Once the grapes are ready to be harvested, each is handpicked to avoid stressing the fruits. Thorough temperature control is the key to winemaking at this winery. As soon as the grapes are picked, it goes into the stainless steel tanks with a cooling system. This prevents bacteria from causing undesirable brewing processes.
Barrel aging takes place under controlled room temperature in the back of the brewery with bottles for sparkling wine placed upside down for fermentation. By placing the bottle in such a way, wine with long lasting bubbles are made. Sparkling wine is produced using the traditional method of "secondary fermentation in the bottle," the only one of its kind in the Hokuriku region. The fermentation process takes about 45 days in the bottle, and carbon dioxide gas gradually dissolves into the wine. This is a time-consuming and labor-intensive method, but it produces fine and elegant bubbles the moment it is poured into a glass.
With a slight scent of seawater from grapes grown in a place with a gentle sea breeze, these grapes are crafted into a pure, straight white wine that goes well with seafood. Sice the Noto Peninsula is renowned for having bountiful fresh seafood from the neighboring Sea of Japan, it is without saying that winemaking to pair with seafood is inevitable. On the other hand, the red wine made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot is made to go well with wild vegetables. Red wines made here are medium to light that doesn’t leave a bitter taste due to the soil and the young tree. With the current popularity of Japanese food globally, Japanese wine made at Heidee Winery is no doubt the next game changing wine.
The winery not only offers a tour but also houses an authentic restaurant. The views from the restaurant are pleasing to the eye and look inviting. On a sunny day, sitting outside to enjoy the sea breeze with a glass of wine is blissful.
Indispensable for modern winery tours, delicious dishes paired with wines from Heidee Winery are jaw dropping. In a contemporary European design, the restaurant has a cozy atmosphere with the use of wood throughout. Starting the day touring the winery and ending it with a great cuisine with wine is an excellent way to spent a day.
31-21-1, Sendai Monzen-machi Wajima-shi Ishikawa
2 hours drive from JR Kanazawa Station
30 minutes drive from Noto Satoyama Airport (From Haneda Airport in Tokyo, it is about 90minutes plane ride)