One of the highlights of the recent Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience was a session entitled The Wines of Wonderland. Chaired by wine writer and passion alternative variety advocate Max Allen, the other panel members were the acclaimed British wine critic Jancis Robinson OBE MW, Chalmers winemaker Kim Chalmers, and prominent Australian wine critics Jane Faulkner and Mike Bennie.

Of the 12 alternative varieties we sampled from wineries around the world, one of my favourites was the first wine on show, the Grace Koshu Hishiyama Vineyard 2009 from Japan. Robinson noted that three wineries in the world have ‘Grace’ in their name, the other two being the Grace Vineyard near Sacramento in California and the Grace Vineyard in Shanxi province China. (Ah, just realised she may not have been aware of Cape Grace Wines in the Margaret River?)



Grace Winery Ayana and Shigekazu MisawaUnusually, women have senior roles at both the Grace Vineyard in Shanxi and Grace Winery in Japan. China’s Grace Vineyard is run by Judy Leissner, who took over in 2002 from the winery’s founder, her father CK Chan. Ayana Misawa is the winemaker at Grace Winery and daughter of Shigekazu Misawa, one of the pioneering proponents of the Koshu grape in Japan.

At 31 years of age Ayana already has an impressive resume. After studying at the Institute of Oenology and Viticulture in Yamanishi, she completed further studies at the University of Bordeaux and South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. Ayana also spent time working at prestigious wineries in South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Australia, including a stint at the Mountford Estate in Waipara, New Zealand with the highly regarded Taiwanese-born winemaker CP. (Coincidentally we enjoyed a bottle of the 2009 Mountfound Estate Pinot Noir with friends at dinner this week.)

Recently Grace’s wines have been winning recognition both in Japan and … Read the rest