The Yamabe Winery & Matsumoto’s Beautiful, Bucolic Wine Country

Sat, Mar 18, 2023


When I first moved to the Yamabe area east of Matsumoto I would go outside and walk up the street and I could quite literally smell the grapes. Sitting among the rice fields and crawling up the valley, the fields of grapes here create a landscape akin to many I’ve seen across central Europe.


While the scenery is fantastic, and worth the effort it takes to get out here, a visit to the Yamabe Winery makes for a fine centerpiece to our very own wine country.


Using only locally-grown grapes, the Yamabe Winery produces tens of thousands of bottles of wine each year, from well-known Merlot and Concord reds to lesser-known but equally palatable Delaware and Niagara whites.


In normal times you can help yourself to as many samples as you like of the various wines available throughout the store. When Japan finally conquers its fear of the coronavirus perhaps they will return to those glorious free-tasting days.

You can, of course, take some wine home with you. Or you can have a glass or two with lunch at Mariage, the winery’s in-house restaurant, where your meal comes with a wonderful view of the valley and downtown Matsumoto and the towering northern Alps beyond.


Adjacent to the winery is the farmer’s market, where you’ll find all sorts of local products, with freshly-grown vegetables and fruits taking center stage.



And in the warmer months there’s grape soft-serve ice cream! (Not pictured because I already ate it.)


The Yamabe Winery lies along the road that winds up the Yamabe Valley, about an hour’s walk from the train station or Matsumoto Castle. But my recommendation is to rent a bicycle (if you can navigate the onerous process) and enjoy a ride through the countryside. Who knows, you may even catch the smell of grapes in the air!


If you go: