Overall review: Azumino Winery, located near the Hitoichiba Station, was a surprise to us in terms of quality for some of their full-bodied wines. Winery is roughly 15 minutes away from Hitoichiba Station by car, will cost around 3,000 yen ($30 USD) by taxi. If you are based in Matsumoto Station, it will take you another 14 minutes on train to get to Hitoichiba Station. As Hitoichiba is quite a small station, be sure to check the train schedules in advance as train rides come roughly just once every 30 minutes. Highlight for us with Azumino Winery was with their wine tasting, which is separated into free wine tasting and paid tasting. 7 bottles of wines are available for free tasting, ranging from sweet to dry, and red to white. While paid tasting is available for their more premium bottles. You can either pay 1,320 yen for 3 red wines (30cc each) or 770 yen for tasting of 3 white wines (20cc each). Being able to do tasting outside at their terrace seats with a view of their vineyards was wonderful. If it is not for pandemic, they also provide a 10 minute free winery tour.
We took the Oito Line from Matsumoto Station to Hitoichiba Station, where Azumino Winery is closest to in terms of train station.
Hitoichiba Station is a very cute little station. There are usually taxis waiting outside the station, so will be very easy to just hop onto to one and you will be at the winery in no time.
As we approached the winery, we saw beautiful sakura on the sides of the road.
Another shot from inside the taxi.
Right in front of the winery, you will see their vineyards for varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay.
Another shot of their vineyard.
This is the entrance to Azumino Winery.
A nice little map shows you which vineyards are for which varietal, while there is also a yogurt workshop/factory to the right of the wine shop. Their yogurt was very impressive, extremely milky yogurt.
Inside the shop, you will find the different wines available for purchase. This bottle here is their most expensive wine, the 2017 Special Reserve, which we will get to try as part of their premium paid tasting.
Their Chardonnays were also a decent surprise.
Upon entering the winery, to your left you will find the free tasting corner.
A good variety of wines are available for tasting, just speak to the staff and they will happily pour you some for tasting. 2018 Chardonnay (dry), 2019 Niagara (sweet), 2017 Concord (sweet), 2019 Niagara (dry), 2019 Concord (dry), 2017 Rose (dry), 2017 Merlot (dry)
After trying out all 7 bottles, we moved on to the paid tasting.
After selecting your plan (either red or white), and paying your fee at the counter, you will get 3 tokens that you can use at this tasting machine.
We will be tasting the 3 red wines on the left.
The token looks like this, and you will also get a little tasting cup, along with some crackers.
The 'tasting' kit.
A close-up shot of the 3 bottles we will be tasting, 2014 Merlot, 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2017 Special Reserve.
2017 Special Reserve is the most expensive wine within their lineup, coming at a price tag of 6,600 yen (roughly $60 USD), it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 65% and Merlot 35%. It is the flagship wine of Azumino Winery, aged for 14 months in French oak barrels.
We also got this cheddar crackers to go along with our wine, they were a fantastic match.
Being able to do tasting outside with a nice countryside view of Nagano was a pleasant experience.
If you are around the neighborhood, would definitely recommend to drop by and you will not be disappointed by their full-bodied wine and their incredibly milky yogurt!