Koshu (甲州 kōshū) is a white wine grape variety that has been grown primarily in Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan. It was developed from grapes that were brought from the Caucasus through the Silk Road, at a period estimated to be around a thousand years ago. Though long thought to be of exclusively European origin, it is now known to be a hybrid (probably naturally occurring) of Europe's Vitis vinifera and one or more Asian Vitis species. The name “Koshu” is a former name for Yamanashi.
The distinctive characteristics of Koshu are a pale, straw colour and a soft, fruity bouquet with overtones of citrus and peach. The taste is clean, delicate and fresh, considered a good match for Japanese cuisine.
In the late 19th century, the first proper winery was established in Yamanashi. After the second half of the 20th century, production of Japanese Wine from locally grown grapes increased dramatically. There are now more than 80 wineries in Yamanashi Prefecture; they turn out about 40% of Japan’s domestic wine production, and Yamanashi has 95% of the Koshu plantings in the country.
- Koshu of Japan website, page of “About Koshu”.
- “Genetic Analysis of East Asian Grape Cultivars Suggests Hybridization with Wild Vitis”. Nami Goto-Yamamoto, Jason Sawler, Sean Myles, PLOS ONE, October 21, 2015
- Koshu of Japan website, page of “Taste”
- Yamanashi Prefecture website, page of “Koshu wine” Koshu of Japan website, page of “Winemaking”