Updated: Apr 29, 2021
If you are into Japanese Wine, or just love wine in general and have been dying to try and find out what Japanese Wine have to offer, then look no further, Budounooka Yamanashi is your best bet!
Wine lover's heaven with all-you-can-taste Japanese Wine
Free entry and exit on the day, no need to be locked up in the wine cave for the whole day
Budounooka is located just 15 minutes away on foot from Katsunumabudoukyou Station, it is quite a bit of an uphill, so an alternative would be to take a 5 minute taxi ride
Price range of wine available for tasting is on the lower end, most expensive ones we saw was around $30 USD / bottle, roughly 3,000 yen, while most wines were in the $15-$20 USD range, or 1,500-2,000 yen
Who we would recommend this to?
This place is perfect for those who are interested in Japanese Wine, but have not had the chance to try many bottles yet. It is the perfect introduction to Japanese Wine as there are 180+ wines available for tasting, with varieties ranging from the renowned Koshu, Muscat Bailey A, to Kai Noir, Merlot, Bijou Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Queen, and so on, while many of the major wine producers like Takeda Winery, Soryu Winery etc. are also covered.
Katsunumabudoukyou Station is just a 1.5 hour train ride away from Shinjuku Station, so accessibility really is quite good. Upon arrival, not only will you be able to immediately breath in 'fresher' air, you will also realize why this station has 'grapes', aka 'budou', in its station name, there really are lots and lots of small vineyards across this whole area.
This is the view out from the station, the Kofu Basin.
After a short walk up the hills, or I should say, through the vineyards, you will arrive at Budounooka Yamanashi.
Budounooka is actually more than just a place where you can taste wine, they offer accommodation, restaurants, barbecue, onsen (hot spring) and more. But as we are there for wine, we checked in to the Wine Cave reception where we bought our tickets (1,520 yen / person, and comes with your own little tasting 'cup'), and headed straight down to the Wine Cave.
After going underground to the Wine Cave, you will see two aisles. The White Wine aisle will be on your right. The more dry wines are located near the entrance, while the sweeter wines are located all the way in the back.
On the left hand side is the Red Wine aisle, which again starts from the fuller-bodied wines that are near the entrance, the lighter-bodied wines that are in the middle of the room, and lastly the rosés that are sitting all the way in the back.
As we drank more and more, I decided to change the color profile of my camera to better depict the state of mind I was in. Yes, more like this.
The wine 'cup' mentioned earlier that comes with your admission fee looks like this.
There is a nice little explanation on why Budounooka uses this 'cup' for their wine tasting experience at their underground Wine Cave:
"This is a cup that is used for wine. It has been used in France from a long time ago, the uneven surface of the container is purposely designed so light reflection can help improve the color tone of the wine."
Meanwhile, there is also a little container in which you can spit your wine into.
During our time there, we did come across a few people who were really serious with their wine tasting. They tasted every single bottle. They drank, spat them out, and took notes. Apparently this place is quite often visited by sommeliers, as it offers them a perfect opportunity to try out hundreds of bottles of Japanese Wine, and just make purchases on ones they found to be outstanding.
Just like you see in this picture, wines that are for tasting purposes are located on top of barrels that are placed in the middle of the aisle, while on the side is where you will find wine racks with those bottles for purchase.
I didn't even know there were that many Japanese Rosé wines to begin with! The selection there surely was impressive.
Overall, we had a great time at Budounooka Yamanashi. The only downside is as mentioned, the wines available for tasting were on the lower end of the price range. But after all, the admission ticket is just 1,520 yen, roughly $15 USD, so really can't complain, was definitely amazing value for what it offers.
If after your Wine Cave visit, you want to try out more expensive wines, you also have the option to visit their wine shop on the 1F, they offer tasting by the glass for just 600 yen ($6 USD) / glass, wines available here will be on the higher end of the scale, near 10,000 yen ($100 USD) price tag.
Enough sharing of my experiences there, comment below and tell me how yours was!