Ito Farm

Okazaki, Aichi

Ito Farm is a winery run by Mr Takashi Ito in Okazaki, Aichi. He started growing grapes in 2014 and has been making wine since 2019. Up until now, he has made wine at wineries that offer custom crush services, such as Sanyo Winery in Yamanashi, but in autumn 2023, he will finally build his own winery ‘Domaine Ito’ in Okazaki and begin making his “own” wine.

He first encountered wine when he was a university student. After graduating from a local high school, he went on to study at the University of Yamanashi in Yamanashi, a prefecture renowned for its grapes and Japanese wines. The university has a department where he could study winemaking, and it was there that he became interested in winemaking as a biological science. 'Some yeasts are resistant to alcohol, others are resistant to high pH environments, and I found the differences interesting and wanted to know more about them.'

Nevertheless, he majoured in chemistry at university, which was his interest at the time, and studied in a fuel cell laboratory, and after graduation he found a job in his home town of Aichi in that field. He then worked as an office worker for 15 years.

One weekend when he was a hard-working office worker, a nearby liquor store was holding a natural wine tasting event featuring only Chardonnay wines. It was a casual drop-in, but it was there that he recalled his interest in wine. He wondered ‘The same white wine can have many different aromas depending on the winemaker. With wine, I can express myself.’ He realised that his character, inherited from his mother, was still present.

Then, in 2014, he left his job and started growing grapes first. He learnt about winemaking at various wineries, including Funky Chateau, COCO FARM & WINERY, Okuizumo Winery and Sanyo Winery.


Takashi grows a variety of grape varieties, including Kyoho Shine Muscat, Queen Nina and Muscat Bailey A, on approximately 1 ha of vineyards. Currently, wine varieties are being planted in a new 0.2 ha plot, with plans to increase the area under cultivation in the future.

The vineyard is located in a corner of a quiet residential area in the northern part of Okazaki. It receives sunlight from sunrise to sunset, has wide openings for good ventilation and well-drained sandy-gravel soils. It is a very favourable environment for viticulture.

The key to his viticulture, he believes, is yield limitation: 800 kg to 1 t per 0.1 ha is ideal, he says, an insight based on his own experiments.

'I started with 2 t but they weren't very tasty, so the next year I reduced it to 1.5 t and I produced grapes that were as good as the ones sold in the supermarkets. The next year, I reduced it to 800 kg, and someone said that it was the best grape they'd ever tasted. I think different growers have different ideas, but I never blink because they are backed up by my own experience’.

He does not use herbicides and is also working on switching to the minimum number of pesticides allowed in grass growing organic farming and reducing the number of sprays. This is because he believes that whatever they are, insects and weeds in the fields have their own role to play.

'Insects compete for survival, some are bad for the grapes, some are good. When I first started farming, I sprayed pesticides according to the pest control calendar recommended by the prefecture, and I saw a large number of insects dying in the fields. I also felt uncomfortable about the fact that pesticides cured grape diseases so quickly, and I began to think that pesticides and other artificial additives were not good for people either. Insects and weeds have their own meaning. Then I should let them stay where they are. When weeds die, they fall off, they return to the soil, and the cycle goes on again.’

He grows grapes in harmony with the sun, rain, insects and weeds. This wish is reflected in the winery's logo, which is based on the image of a 'grapevine' and the 'cycle of nature'. It represents the natural cycle of the grapevine as it enjoys the blessings of the earth, the energy of the sun, the climate and the natural forces of other organisms to bear grapes.

Ito Farm has also supplied Delaware as a food ingredient to the athletes' village for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Takashi aims to make wines that are fun to drink. He wants to make wines that go well with everyday Japanese food as daily wines, and wants people from all walks of life to drink them casually.

‘Wine is like a time capsule. I want to capture the rich aroma of grapes such as Kyoho in the vineyards in the flavour of the wine as it is. I also sell table grapes, and I want to make wine that our customers who ate the grapes in the summer will be able to drink wine made from the same grapes that year and reminisce about 'that taste from that time'. For this reason, he does not chaptalise and acidify the wines. Sulphites are also limited to a small amount at bottling.

The winemaker who has most influenced him is Mr Toyohiko Kanehashi of Funky Chateau in Nagano, where he received winemaking training. 'In natural wine making, there is very little that can be done with human intervention. In other words, it depends on the potential of the grapes. Because it is such a simple process, you have to understand the grapes and nature". This is his lesson.

No selective yeast is used, so even if the grapes are not in good condition due to the weather or other factors that year, it can't be helped. 'I, as a natural winemaker, have to make the best of the year's grapes. To do this, I have to take good care of the grapes. I have to stay close to the grapes and support the workings of the grapes and the creatures in the vineyard. I make wine based on this idea’.

In autumn 2023, he will finally build his own winery ‘Domaine Ito’ and make his own wine there. Until now he has been making wine at other wineries that offer custom crush services, but in the future he will actively accept custom crush from people who want to make wine from grapes grown in Okazaki. 'I want to be the first penguin of winemaking in the city’.

In the Netherlands and Europe, he wants to challenge himself with the feeling that he can make such enjoyable wines from Japanese table grapes, and also to expand his connections through wine. The flower knot on the wine label is part of the Japanese culture of appreciating connections between people. The happiness of receiving nature's gifts is passed on from one person to another. He put his wish into the flower knot.