Kazumi Wines Presents Koshu – Wine Industry Advisor


Unique Wine Varietal is the first of its kind to be produced in the United States

Napa, CaliforniaKazumi Winesa Japanese-American-owned winery in Napa Valley, is thrilled to announce the release of its 2021 Napa Koshu. The crisp, delicate white wine is made from the ancient Japanese Koshu grape, a new varietal in North America, making Kazumi Wines Koshu the first of its kind to be produced in the United States.

Koshu, which arrived in Japan over a thousand years ago via the Silk Road, is grown mainly in the Koshu Valley in the Japanese prefecture of Yamanashi. The fruit is thick-skinned and hardy with a dark pink hue that can produce a wide range of wines from delicate white to sparkling, orange and even red wines. Napa Valley has a different terroir than Yamanashi, Japan, with an ideal long growing season with warm days and cool nights. Koshu grapes ripen slowly and result in smaller, more concentrated grapes compared to grapes grown in Japan, which makes the Napa Valley version of Koshu quite different from traditional Japanese Koshu, but no less drinkable.

“We are thrilled to introduce Koshu to wine lovers in the United States,” said Kazumi Wines founder Michelle Sakazaki. “Koshu will appeal to those who like more delicate white wines, like Pinot Gris, or crisp white wines with high acidity. It’s also lower in alcohol, just 11.5%, and goes well with all types of cuisines, but is especially good with seafood and Japanese dishes.

The Koshu grape was discovered in the United States nine years ago by a Japanese intern at Foundation Plant Services (FPS) at UC Davis. The original Koshu vines at FPS were donated to the United States 95 years ago by a Japanese university but were infested with two viruses and unusable. In 2014, FPS successfully cleaned the vines of Koshu and made them available for propagation. In 2018, Kazumi Wines purchased these same Koshu canes from FPS and, with the cooperation of some of Napa Valley’s top growers, grafted the canes and planted them in a few Napa Valley vineyards.

Bringing Koshu, a grape that represents his Japanese heritage, to the United States was a labor of love for Sakazaki. In 2021, one ton of Koshu grapes were harvested from a South Napa vineyard and 600 bottles produced for its inaugural release, which quickly sold out. The 2022 vintage is shaping up well in the vineyard and Sakazaki expects to be able to produce up to 1,800 bottles/150 cases which will be sold by allocation only.


Kazumi Wines, a winery located in Napa Valley, is one of the few female-owned Asian wineries in the North Bay. Founder Michelle Kazumi Sakazaki is a Japanese-American, born in California and raised in Tokyo. After a career as a fashion designer, Michelle joined the wine industry, helping her father run their family business “90 Plus Wine Club” in Napa. She realized her dream of creating her own wine label in 2015. Working with esteemed winemaker, Kale Anderson, Kazumi Wines produces some of Napa Valley’s finest Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2021, Kazumi Wines harvested and produced the first Koshu wine of its kind in the United States. Kazumi Wines is proud to represent a minority group in the wine industry and to introduce a Japanese varietal to American consumers and beyond.


Shirley M. Pinder