Hokkaido Prefecture is known for many things. It has long, cold winters and snow that attracts innumerable powder hounds. However, Japan’s northernmost island is less known for its twenty-nine wineries producing world class wine.
Hokkaido’s environment differs from the well know European and New World wine regions. Extreme winters and short summers are not typical conditions for growing grapes. To compensate for these differences and still produce outstanding wines, the Japanese adjusted their grape cultivation methods to suit the climate and seasons.
This climate-adapted method became known as Kiyomi. It developed after the Obsidian Earthquake of 1952 in the small town of Ikeda-cho in the Tokachi region of Eastern Hokkaido. The practice is unique to the region and creates a dry wine from sour grapes.
Also located in Tokachi is Handa Farm, a small dairy producing cheese from the milk of cows born and raised on the property. A true farmstead, Handa Farm names its three product lines after the three types of grass eaten by the cows, “Orchard”, “Timothy”, and “Alfalfa”. Within each cheese line they also produce flavor variations unique to the season.
One style of “Timothy” cheese incorporates the Kiyomi grape of Tokachi. Handa Farm uses the Kiyomi pomace (grape leftovers from pressings) to age its aptly named “Kiyomi Timothy” cheese. Much like a French Tomme de Marc or an Ubriaco of Italy, this semi-hard cheese absorbs the boozy flavors of the pomace. It borrows from the traditions of Europe and creates something uniquely Japanese.
Check out the profile of Kiyomi Timothy here.