Dai-Nihon Yamanashi Budoshu Gaisha established, the first private Japanese wine company. The company sent two young men, Masanari Takano and Ryuken Tsuchiya, to France. It then started large-scale wine production using Koshu grapes.
This year witnessed the creation of the first post-war real wine* brand, "Mercian". Taking up a new challenge, we aimed to create Japanese wine worthy of global recognition.
*Defined as a wine made by authentic methods with no sweeteners or other additives.
Mercian 1962 (White) wins a gold medal at an international wine competition.
17 years since the founding of Mercian. Mercian 1962 (White) wins the first Japanese gold medal at an international wine competition.
This was the moment when the world took notice of Japanese wine, and when the passion for winemaking passed on through generations since the Meiji Era (1868 to 1912) finally bore fruit.
Château Mercian founded
Château Mercian created as a legitimate Japanese winemaking brand. This marks the start of fine wine production in Japan.
Merlot first grown in Kikyogahara
Shogo Asai (pen name Usuke Asai), known as the "father of modern Japanese wine", argued for introducing European varieties to ensure authentic wine production. In 1976, we started cultivating the wine grape variety Merlot in Kikyogahara, near Shiojiri in Nagano Prefecture.
Cabernet Sauvignon grown
After growing Merlot in Kikyogahara, we started growing Cabernet Sauvignon in our own vineyard, Jyonohira. We broke away from the conventional Japanese belief that grapes had to be grown on trellises, and instead used the French style of vertical shoot positioning. This marked a new direction for grape cultivation.
Vertical shoot positioning and
trellis cultivation in Hokushin
By now, the Château Mercian range had evolved to the point where it won gold medals in a number of famous international wine competitions. It was now time to pioneer the creation of wines that express Japan's climate and natural features. To further develop the brand, we started vertical shoot positioning cultivation of Chardonnay in the Hokushin District of Nagano Prefecture in the 1990s. This period also saw the introduction of measures to increase quality, such as limiting harvest volumes and increased cultivation density through adoption of spur pruning in trellis cultivation.
With Paul Pontallier of Château Margaux acting as advisor, the quality of iconic single-vineyard wines such as "Kikyogahara", "Jyonohira" and "Mariko" improved in leaps and bounds. Based on the teaching that "great wines are elegance itself", the company learned the intensity and passion of winemaking.
Joint research with
the University of Bordeaux
The Koshu grape, previously dismissed as mediocre, was found to have hidden distinctive citrus aromas. To exploit the potential of this discovery to its fullest, joint research started the following year (2004) with the late Takatoshi Tominaga, a researcher working with Denis Dubordieu at the University of Bordeaux.
the company Mariko Vineyard
During our search for land suitable for growing higher quality grapes, we stumbled across the ideal soil environment in the Mariko District near Ueda in Nagano Prefecture. We opened the Mariko Vineyard there with enthusiastic support from the local community. We manage every element of the vineyard and use it to experiment to our heart's content, including pushing ourselves to grow grapes of the highest quality.
"Château Mercian Koshu Kiiroka 2004"
Start of joint research with Takatoshi Tominaga, who worked with Denis Dubourdieu at the University of Bordeaux, to draw out the hidden citrus aroma of the Koshu grape variety discovered in 2003. The collaboration resulted in the release of "Koshu Kiiroka 2004" in 2005. A new category of aromatic Koshu wine was born.
Katsunuma Winery renovated
New winery in the Katsunuma area of Yamanashi Prefecture opens, combining active winemaking activities with a visitor center, exhibits, tasting café and vineyard. The many visitors get an opportunity to explore the charms of wine and experience its history and traditions.
New vineyard in the Kataoka District
near Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture
An approximately 9 hectare vineyard opens in the Kataoka District near Shiojiri in Nagano Prefecture, with cultivation managed by Mercian. Although the Kikyogahara and Kataoka Districts are both close to Shiojiri, their terroirs are noticeably different. We were determined to make Kataoka a new area of note, and so the wines made there exploit its soil characteristics to the fullest.
Kenichi Ohashi as Master of Wine joined
Château Mercian as brand consultant.
Kenichi Ohashi, certified as Master of Wine in 2015, joined Château Mercian as brand consultant. The company shifted its focus to the international market.
Opening of the Kikyogahara Winery
Château Mercian Kikyogahara Winery opens in Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture. New facilities were created on the site of the Shiojiri branch of the Daikoku Budoshu Company (which later became Mercian). The exterior of the historic 1938 building was retained while the inside was renovated. The "garage winery" operating in this tiny space specialises in the production of top quality wines, including the iconic Château Mercian Kikyogahara Merlot Signature range, Kikyogahara Merlot, and Kikyogahara Merlot Rosé (winery exclusive).