On July 16, 2013, the Director General of the Tax Agency of Japan announced the designation of Yamanashi as the first Japanese geographical indication (“GI”) for wine. “To be allowed to carry the name of Yamanashi, wine needs to use only limited kinds of grape from Yamanashi, including Koshu and Yamanashi Muscat Bailey A, and be brewed and bottled in the prefecture.” See Yamanashi Wines Seek Regional Cachet. To qualify for the Yamanashi GI, 100% of the grapes must be grown within the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan.
The Yamanashi Prefecture, which is located in the Chūbu region of the main island of Honshu, has produced the Koshu varietal for the last 1,000 years. While Japan is traditionally known for sake, a type of rice wine, grape wine is still produced in Japan. The Yamanashi Prefecture is said to produce 40% of Japan’s total wine and contains 670 hectares of vineyards. See Quality Yamanashi Wine.
Many hope this formal designation will help promote awareness of wines from Yamanashi throughout the world. Specifically, the Yamanashi Prefecture Wine Manufacturers’ Association based in Koshu seeks to use the designation to boost the recognition of Yamanashi in Japan and abroad. See, e.g., Local Japan: Case Studies in Place Promotion: Using Regional Products and PR to Revitalize Local Areas (noting that the Yamanashi Prefectural Government is hoping to bring its wines to global markets through joint ventures abroad).