KUHEIJI-Elegance mixed with depression and humility-

Kuheiji Kuno

18th August, 2022

- Everything starts in the fields and rice paddies -
By growing and sweating our own ingredients in the sake making process, we experience the drama of vintage and terroir that can only be felt in the fields and rice paddies. Why do we Japanese sake brewers grow rice?
Generally speaking, there has been a gap between the two: farmers grow the rice and the brewery buys it to produce sake. Someday, this commonplace will be replaced by the question: 'Can we talk about sake without knowing about rice fields?' The question came to me: "Can I talk about sake without knowing the fields?
In fact, there are very few sake breweries that grow their own rice and brew it into sake. In 2010, we began cultivating our own rice fields in Kurodasho, Hyogo and Akaban, Okayama, with the aim of breaking down the barriers between "farming" and "brewing".
By growing our own rice, we learn that there is an annual drama, such as vintage and terroir, that can only be felt in the fields. Without knowing this drama, we realise that we cannot brew the SAKE we are aiming for.

Rice harvesting

- Vintage and terroir of rice -
We hear the word vintage in wine as a matter of course. But what about sake? Rice is something that the Japanese take for granted, but the rice fields tell us that there is much more to it than meets the eye.
It is impossible for it not to be affected by the weather every year, and of course the yield varies from year to year. And even more than that, the rice's quality differs from year to year more than you might think.
For example, if it is too hot, the rice will be hard, if there is not enough sunshine, it will be poor, and if there is a typhoon during the flowering season, pollination will not work and the rice will not bear fruit. Because we grow the rice with our own hands, we are able to deliver our SAKE to you with its own drama.
By growing our own rice, we have realised that brewing techniques cannot completely change the characteristics of the raw materials in any given year. It also made us acutely aware of our inability to resist the rhythms and providence of nature, and our inability to do anything but look up to the heavens and pray. In growing rice myself, I discovered that the process of making SAKE begins in the rice fields. The vintage and terroir of sake. We believe that our philosophy, our aesthetics and the elegance we seek would not exist without this path. And we believe that along the way we will bring you new joys and happiness.

Rice before processing

- It all started in 2010, in Kurodasho, Hyogo Prefecture -
This is one of the few regions where the conditions for growing Yamada-Nishiki are right. Yamada-Nishiki is a variety that has the potential to become the ideal sake rice we are looking for.
In wine terms, it is the Pinot Noir of Burgundy, elegant and ageworthy.
Rice also has a region of origin. The suitable growing area, climate and soil type differ, and only a limited number of regions can grow the Yamada-Nishiki that we are looking for. Kurodasho is an optimum location due to its sunshine hours, rainfall, temperature trends and temperature differences. Each grain of Yamada Nishiki grown here is heavier, giving structure and complexity to the sake. However, these characteristics cannot be achieved if the rice is grown without thought.
When I first started growing rice, I didn't know what kind of rice I wanted to produce. I had a strong desire to grow rice with my own hands, but I had no idea what kind of rice or how to grow it. Looking back, I am ashamed to say that I did not know what kind of rice to grow and how to grow it. But I am glad I did.
Because I didn't know, I was able to take a scalpel to the obvious without taking it for granted. Because I didn't know, I was able to question common sense. That is why I am now proud that I am able to shine a new light on rice.
From the beginning, there are things we can do because we were not farmers.
It is precisely because we sake brewers cultivate the rice ourselves, not for yield but for potential, that we are able to obtain excellent Yamada Nishiki.
Every year there is drama in the rice paddies, and that is where the sake brewing process begins. We brewers feel the breath of the rice, which is different every year, and interact with it as it is transformed into sake.
Yadwian Chef Yannick Alléno visited us and took us into the rice fields.

A farmer monitors the evolution of the plant

1647 - Founded - The first head of the family, Kuheiji Kuno, started brewing sake.
The present owner is the 15th generation.

1997 - Rebirth - In the high growth period that followed the Showa period, our company was also engaged in selfish, inexpensive, mass-produced work. We switched to the field of Junmai Daiginjo and created "KAUSHIBITO KUHEIJI".

2002 - Break away from the negative legacy of cheap products, which was based on the pursuit of productivity and rationality, and become a brewery that only produces junmai daiginjo sake.

2006 - Challenge - Based on the belief that if something is truly good, it can transcend borders, culture and genres, the company began to educate the French culinary and wine industries about sake in Paris.

2010 - Farmer - Started growing his own sake in Kurodasho, Hyogo.

2014 - Responsible for the cultivation of the varieties he releases, he also starts growing Omachi in Akaban, Okayama.
2015 ─ Own rice field - Own rice field in Kurodasho-machi.

2015 ─ Chemical reaction ─ Acquisition of a brewery in the village of Moret-Saint-Denis, Burgundy, France.
As a brewer, he aims to combine the chemistry and sensibility of sake and wine.

2017 ─ Arrival ─ Acquisition of a 3 ha vineyard in Moret St Denis.
In 2017, he arrived at harvesting and vinification from his own vineyards.

2018 ─ Acquisition ─ We acquired a new 1 ha (approx. 3,000 tsubo) field in Kurodasho.
(2019 ─ We believe that growing rice and grapes in Kurodasho, Akaban and Moresandoni and brewing sake and wine will bring new joy and happiness to everyone.

Original text

― すべては、田んぼと畑から ―


- お米のビンテージ・テロワール ―

― 始まりは2010年・兵庫県・黒田庄にて ―
田んぼには毎年ドラマが存在し、そこから酒造りは始まっています。 私たち醸造家は毎年違う米の息吹を感じ、対話しながら日本酒へと生まれ変えるのです。
ヤドワイヤンシェフ ヤニック・アレノ氏が訪問し田圃に入ってもらいました。

歴 史
1647年 ─ 創 業 ─

1997年 ─ 再 生 ─

2002年 ─ 脱 却 ─

2006年 ─ 挑 戦 ─

2010年 ─ 農 家 ─

2014年 ─ 責 任 ─

2015年 ─ 自社田 ─
2015年 ─ 化学反応 ─

2017年 ─ 土 着 ─


2018年 ─ 取 得 ─

2019年 ─ 未 来 ─

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Kuheiji Kuno