On a hill overlooking Katsunuma is an onsen (spa) and wine tasting tourist centre called
Budou no oka – ぶどうの丘 or The Hill of Grapes in English, which we visited on our last day before heading home, and in hindsight perhaps it would have been better to go there first.
We skipped the onsen, and after a quick lunch (and a local beer, the Katsunuma Kai Draft) to line the stomach we headed down to the tasting area in the cellar.
You pay about ￥1100 ($11) and as well as free reign in the cellar you also get a “tastevin” which is a small, silver saucer you wear round your neck to taste wines with, and which you can take home as a souvenir.
The cellar basically consists of all the main wines from all the main wineries in Katsunuma and the surrounding area, lining the walls for you to add to your shopping basket and also open bottles arranged on barrels in the middle of the rows for you to help yourself to.
The reason it would have been better to come here first is, was obviously we could have tried all the wineries and then chosen the best wines and wineries to visit. Having said that, turning up at a winery with no idea what gems or disasters are hidden inside is perhaps half the fun of a wine tour.
And there wasn’t a single winery we regretted visiting.
Unfortunately I was suffering from a 3 day hangover (it was our last day) and couldn’t fully enjoy the free wine, but did manage to re-taste some to check they were as bad as the first time I had them, or to make sure the bottles currently shipping their way to our house were wines we’d want to drink again.
I reconfirmed that I’m not a big fan of madeira wine and also that the sweet, pink Pione bought from Yamanashi Winery the day before, was definitely a good purchase.
With a final wander round the souvenir shop, we headed off to the station and our wine tour of Katsunuma came to a slightly blurry and queasy end.
Can’t wait to go back!