Aizawa Nouen

Obihiro, Hokkaido


Aizawa Nouen (Nouen means “farm”)  is a winery run by Ichiro Aizawa and his wife, Rina. It all started when Ichiro's father and current farm manager, Tatsuya Aizawa, bought a vineyard in the town of Memuro, Kawanishi-gun, Hokkaido in 1998, and started viticulture.

In 2004, the vineyard where it had been cultivating grapes became too small and the present farmland in Tokachi, Obihiro, was acquired. The land, which had been a mere mountain forest and wilderness, was cleared from the ground up and a vineyard was built.

Winemaking began in 2015 when Ichiro, who worked for a city gas company, joined the farm. Just before that, at the age of 33, Ichiro learned viticulture and winemaking at 10R Winery, one of Japan's leading wineries in Iwamizawa, Hokkaido, and also the Hokkaido Wine Academy, which trains winemakers in Hokkaido, and the National Research Institute of Brewing, the only public research institute for alcohol in Japan.

After Ichiro joined the farm, it started producing and selling grape juice and grape jam, in addition to winemaking by using a custom crush service. In 2019, the Aizawa family built its own winery, which was a long-held dream for the family, and started its own winemaking.


Tokachi, Obihiro City in Hokkaido, where Aizawa Nouen is located, is one of the coldest places in Hokkaido in northern Japan, with mid-winter temperatures as low as -30°C. On the other hand, in mid-summer, the temperature rises to over 35°C, and the large difference in temperature is even said to make it an unsuitable place for viticulture. However, because of the cold weather, there are fewer pests, which allows the farm to continue to focus on organic farming. This is the most distinctive feature of the Aizawa Nouen. The grapes produced in these vineyards, which were cleared from the ground up from mountain forests and wildernesses, contain no pesticides.

They also insist on creating an environment that is as similar as possible to that of the native grapes in the Tokachi wilderness. Therefore, when cultivating the land, as many trees as possible are left in the surrounding area, and where there are few trees, as many as 2,000 trees of various species are planted. As far as possible, compost made in Tokachi is also applied.

And so, as the trees on the plantation became more numerous and larger, the surrounding nature began to become more diverse and unexpected events began to occur. The number of birds coming to the fields increases year by year, and birds of prey, which had never been seen before, catch mice nibbling on the trees and fly away. Then, other birds whose name they don't even know skewer grapevines with insects such as coccinellids. In autumn, small birds come to eat the grapes in flocks. Pest control is also done by hand, as no pesticides are used, but nature helps them, as when pests appear on the grapes, different insects appear to eat them.

In such Tokachi, only cold-tolerant “Yamabudou (Vitis Amurensis)” varieties can be grown. However, on the other hand, it also means that wines with a powerful flavour can be made from the unique thick-skinned grapes of Tokachi. The grape varieties they grow are as follows:.

Yamabudou (Vitis Amurensis): Only the best-grown branches from native vines in the Tokachi mountain forests are collected and cultivated. This variety has a deep, natural flavour, strong acidity and a dense wine-red colour. With its strong aroma and acidity, it is used not only to make wines that are delicious immediately after they are made, but also to make wines that can be kept for 10-15 years to enjoy the changes in flavour. At the farm, they specialise in cultivating this variety.

Kiyomi: This is a selection of Seibel 13053, a cold-tolerant Yamabudou variety, from which only branches that are particularly cold-tolerant were collected and cultivated. It is characterised by its gentle colour and refreshing acidity. It is used to make elegant Pinot Noir-like wines and sparkling wines.

Yamasachi: This variety is a cross between Kiyomi and Yamabudou. Ichiro's admiration for the Yamasachi used in the Pinot Rosé of 10R winery, where he learned to make wine in the past, led him to purchase seedlings from a winery, Tokachi Wine in Tokachi to grow the grapes. It is used to make wines with a wild aroma and acidity, which is taken over from Yamabudou.

Kiyomai: Like Yamasachi, this variety is also a cross between Kiyomi and Yamabudou and is grown by purchasing seedlings from Tokachi Wine. It is characterised by a fresher acidity than Yamasachi. This is reflected in the wine's flavour.


Fermentation is carried out with wild yeast, which was created by cultivating mountain forests that have never been exposed to pesticides, and planting flowers and trees there, and which are grown without pesticides. Aizawa Nouen’s commitment is that it is rare in the world for a winery to cultivate grapes and make wine this completely pesticide-free.

In addition to the harshness of winter, they are very busy during the harvesting and wine making season, but they are making wine under the motto "having fun". They wondered if the wine made from Yamabudou harvested in Tokachi would be accepted in Europe, the “home” of wine, and how it would be felt by people there. They were very interested in this and decided to export to the Netherlands and Europe.

As well as making delicious, pesticide-free natural wines, they also want to increase the number of young winemakers and wineries like them in Tokachi. If there are more wineries in Tokachi, wine lovers from all over the world will travel to the region, and the local communities will become more active. For Aizawa Nouen, winemaking and this overseas expansion are also challenges to build connections between people through Yamabudou.