Eishi Okamoto, who has been producing wine at his Beau Paysage winery for 11 years. “I accept whatever the vineyard gives me.” Okamoto farms 15 different plots, a total of seven acres of vineyards in Yamanashi prefecture near Mt. Fuji. He produced 5,000 bottles of wine last year. Slightly more than half of his wines are Merlot and the rest is Chardonnay, although he is experimenting with other varietals.
Like many young independent winemakers, Okamoto is a strict organic farmer. “What I am doing is based on traditional Japanese agriculture,” he says. “When you have pests in the field, you must find ways to coexist with them. I try to live with nature.”
Japanese wine lovers have embraced these Zen winemakers, snapping up their wines as quickly as they are released, despite price tags that can equal $100 a bottle. Okamoto’s Beau Paysage wines sell out within days of their release through a single online sales site. All but invisible to the outside world, these small operations do not produce enough wine to satisfy demand in Japan; these winemakers rarely export.