Woman-Made Wines in Japan

BY Montana Rae

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Raise a glass to women in wine as we celebrate Women’s History Month with a lineup of female-made wines from around the world. Explore each remarkable bottle in Denver restaurants and learn the stories of the women behind the wines.

The history of wine spans centuries and is deeply rooted in tradition. Historically, it was uncommon for women to take the helm as winemakers. Today, the wine industry is evolving and many highly regarded wineries are led by strong women who touch and connect with every aspect of production, from vineyard to winery to the tables of the remarkable restaurants listed below.

In this article series, you’ll find great wines for every budget dynamic women produce worldwide in this global wine experience. 

Get to know female winemakers from Colorado, Oregon, New Zealand, and Italy, plus one very ambitious lady from Japan who dared to do it differently and became a saké brewmaster, a role seldom held by a woman in Japan.

Their stories and backgrounds vary, but ties to family, sustainability, and perseverance unite them.

You’ll find their wines waiting for you in the cellars of some of our city’s best restaurants. Prepare to experience the elegance and finesse these woman-made wines bring to exceptional Denver dining rooms.

Miho Fujita

Yuho ‘Eternal Embers’ Junmai Saké at Temaki Den

3350 Brighton Blvd Unit #100, Denver, CO 80216

The Woman

Our final stop in our world wine tour brings us to Ishikawa prefecture of Japan, where Miho Fujita acts as president and master brewer at Mioya Brewery. Unlike many producers who grew up in the brewery, Miho-san did not begin her career in the saké industry. Instead, she spent several years as an executive for Mattel’s toy company while her father and uncle were in Ishikawa running the brewery. When her uncle passed away, Miho-san struggled to find a clear direction in her life path and decided to join her father in the production of saké.

During the first couple of years of Miho-san’s involvement, the brewery only produced honjozo saké to be sold locally. As trends in consumption shifted, the company experienced a dip in sales as demand for more elevated styles of premium saké grew. Applying her experience in sales and marketing gained in the toy industry, Miho-san guided the brewery to evolve its techniques, experimenting with bold, unconventional production methods. With time, they established a unique house style crafting savory, flavor-packed saké from what Miho-san refers to as “happy rice”.

Although many may not yet recognize the insurgence of strong women in Japan’s saké industry, Miho-san sees things differently.
She says, “I honestly did not think having women in this industry was not special as I see many of them thriving! To me, the sake industry is where you can find powerful female professionals shining. I know that society in general is still harsh for women to succeed. However, I consider that the sake industry is where we can bring out the power of women, whether they are making, selling, and/or promoting sake. That’s how I feel. That said, I would love to welcome you to this world!”

The Saké

If the only experience you’ve had with saké involved a tiny piping hot cup dropped into a pint of Sapporo, you’re in for a treat when you taste Miho-san’s Yuho ‘Eternal Embers’ Junmai at Temaki Den located at The Source in RiNo. This premium saké is named for a local “river-crossing” festival in which an ancient Japanese prince is reunited with his beloved princess. Torches are used in the celebration to light the way to their joyous once-yearly reunion.

Incredibly complex with an outstanding acid structure, this saké has flavors of roasted nuts, dried fruit, and a savory characteristic that works remarkably well with the menu at Temaki Den. You can enjoy this chilled or just slightly warmed. Just be sure not to overheat any premium saké as the high temperatures destroy the delicate flavors and aromas.
Yuho ‘Eternal Embers’ Junmai Saké. Image courtesy of Kome Collective Instagram.

Incredibly complex with an outstanding acid structure, this saké has flavors of roasted nuts, dried fruit, and a savory characteristic that works remarkably well with the menu at Temaki Den. You can enjoy this chilled or just slightly warmed. Just be sure not to overheat any premium saké as the high temperatures destroy the delicate flavors and aromas.

At Temaki Den, try ‘Eternal Embers’ with Ajitsuke Tamago (ramen eggs), Bok Choy Goma-Ae, or Salmon Skin Temaki. Absolutely delicious.

Learn more about Miho-san and Mioya Brewery here.

Check out Temaki Den’s saké list here


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Montana Rae

Montana Rae is a CMS Certified Sommelier and WSET Level III residing in Denver, Colorado. She offers private wine tastings, classes, and dinners at clients’ homes and businesses around Colorado, as well as product recommendations, tips, recipes, and more through her company, The Wine Ship. Montana is also a commercial real estate broker specializing in sales and leasing of restaurant and retail spaces in Denver. Contact Montana at montana@thewineship.com and follow her on Instagram @montana.rae.sommelier

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