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Fukushima winery founded after 3/11 disasters ready to ship first vintage

Mitsubishi Corp. Disaster Relief Foundation Vice Chairman Yasuhito Hirota, left, and Koriyama Mayor Masato Shinagawa are seen at the Fukushima Ose Winery product launch on March 4, 2016, in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. (Mainichi)

KORIYAMA, Fukushima -- The first vintage from the Fukushima Ose Winery here, built by the Mitsubishi Corp. Disaster Relief Foundation to boost local recovery from the March 2011 triple disaster, is ready to be shipped.

    "Fukko Wine" (recovery wine) -- actually a sparkling wine and a cider -- is made entirely from fruit grown across Fukushima Prefecture, and is also intended to send a clear message to consumers that the prefecture's produce is safe and dependable.

    The winery has churned out a total of 5,500 750-milliliter bottles of sparkling wine and cider, priced at 2,000 yen each. Come this summer, it will also release two liqueurs, one made from nashi Japanese pears and the other from peaches. Combined, Fukushima Ose Winery is set to make some 10,000 liters of potent potables.

    As the total number of bottles is quite small, at first the drinks will only be available at hotels and restaurants in Fukushima Prefecture. However, the winery is eyeing future shipments to the Tokyo area.

    The Mitsubishi Corp. Disaster Relief Foundation teamed up with the Koriyama Municipal Government to invest some 1 billion yen in the winery, which is intended to be a model for bringing cultivation, processing and sales together in one firm. The winery was completed in October last year, and will be handed over to local control if it proves successful. The winery is aiming for annual production of 50,000 liters by 2026.

    "I'd like to see this winery spread its wings and find success worldwide," relief foundation Vice Chairman Yasuhito Hirota said at a March 4 product launch in Koriyama. Koriyama Mayor Masato Shinagawa added that he would "put every effort into making the winery a symbol of recovery and creation."

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