Surrounded by vineyards and the wild nature of Hokkaido, this Japanese winery is a destination in and of itself.
A Winery, or a Paradise of the North?
Niki Hills is a winery in the little village of Niki, tucked away deep in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, and located just about as far north as wine grapes will grow! While they continue to tend to their vineyards and age fine wines, the winery also aims to provide a little piece of paradise to all who come to visit, with their winery “farm stay.” Not only can visitors sample the work of Hokkaido’s vintners at Niki Hills, but they can also sample the various natural vistas Hokkaido has to offer.
From the endless fields of green grapes to the surrounding forest, the blue sea off the Shakotan peninsula, and even the local streets, fresh seafood, and cute cafes of nearby port town Yoichi!
Farm Stay Part 1: The Winery
The Niki Hills Winery vineyards stretch 10 hectares (about 1,076,000 ft²) over the green fields of Hokkaido, growing 15,000 grapevines in a handful of different varietals, including the European Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, plus the grapes that seem to represent Hokkaido best, the Kerner. At the winery, they grow the grapes, harvest them, brew up the freshly-picked fruit, and then ferment and age the wine, before bottling it next door. At the end of the process, Niki Hills is left with beautiful local wines, like their “Hatsuyuki.”
Depending on the time of year when you visit, you might get to see the grape harvest in action, or if you’re really lucky, sample a new wine currently being tested! Or perhaps just a world-class award-winning wine instead.
Farm Stay Part 2: The Hotel
At this winery, you can stay the night! The small on-site hotel has 11 rooms that can accommodate up to 22 people, and windows that look out onto a panoramic view of the hilly vineyards. The dining room and wine lounge area is also used to host events, including live performances.
The food served in the dining area is guided by each new pairing, artfully using seasonal seafood and vegetables to create the perfect marriage of flavors.
Farm Stay Part 3: The Gardens and Surrounding Forest
One of the best parts of staying at Niki Hills is the opportunity to stroll through the gardens and even traipse through the surrounding forest. Niki Hills’ general manager Keizo Funatsu is actually the very same adventurer and natural expert that traveled across Antarctica as part of the 1989~90 Trans-Antarctica Expedition, and he now leads much more leisurely nature walks through the forests of Niki Hills, where visitors can hear his fantastic stories and also learn about the surrounding nature.
The winery area is replete with spaces where you can take a walk, or take a moment to relax and appreciate nature, including orchards of all kinds: cherry orchards, paths lined with apple trees, groves of pear trees, and a beautiful plum blossom garden.
A Winery to Enjoy with All Your Senses
Taste the sweetness of fresh fruit and the bitter tannins of wine on the tip of your tongue, smell the aroma of grapes ripening in the sun, and feel the cool Hokkaido breeze on your skin as you explore Niki Hills Winery. It’s a destination like nowhere else!