Although Niigata is perhaps best-known for its nihon-shu, or sake, Echigo Winery shows another side of Niigata. While the prefecture is revered for its pure water and delicious rice--both great ingredients for making sake--the fertile soil also produces delicious grapes from which to make world-class wines. Using grapes grown from bushes instead of vines, Echigo wines tend to have a sweeter finish, offering a wonderful complement to bottles from traditional vineyards.
The winery offers a showroom with wine tasting and a gelato cafe. There, you can sample the different varieties available before choosing which bottle(s) to take home with you. The showroom also carries a variety of locally-produced foods and crafts that make for great gifts. If you have time, there is a delicious Italian-inspired cafe on the premises, called Budo no Hana, or Flower of the Grape. The food is good, and the atmosphere and scenery are even better.
Echigo winery is a 3-5 minute taxi ride from Urasa station, which is accessible via the Joetsu Shinkansen.
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