Shōtosutōrī – Short Stories
Take a look through some of our sake-related short stories.
I’ve been a wine nerd for many years, originally studying for my WSET quals with Master of Wine Nick Adams in the UK and working in pubs and clubs (yes with tails and ears at one point!) and loving voyaging through all the many grapes, lands and cultures that make up the world of wine.
Working in the beautiful Martinborough vineyards gave me a unique chance to understand what most of us want when we choose a drink to celebrate an occasion or relax after a hard day at work. Increasingly we don’t want to drink heaps, instead we search for carefully chosen, health promoting, top quality, taste and aroma experiences that deliver a better life for us all.
When I dove into the world of sake, I quickly became aware that there was some seriously horrible stuff on the shelves in NZ, old, out of date, machine made and low quality so no wonder sake had a poor reputation here and all my whanau thought I was mad to try and turn that round!
Kiwi’s know their wine and applying that knowledge is a great way to enter the world of craft brewed sake (and yes it’s not vinified like wine but brewed like beer) so selecting sake that we can make sense of here meant finding those small artisan breweries (Kura) that make their sake like we make our wine, organically, small batch and hand made using natural yeasts (often from flowers).
We travel to Japan to meet the families that choose to make sake like this wherever they are located from Kyoto to Akita all the way down to Hiroshima, we are focused on giving choice to you, so we constantly search for the rare and fine meaning we offer an interesting range of experiences that you won’t find elsewhere. Kiwis are often surprised when they are given a zesty yuzu infused sake or a glass of sake bubbles and that really makes my heart sing, for that feeling of intrigue and curiosity in a novel moment is what makes life so fabulous!
Want to know more? Travelling to Japan? then book a bespoke sake tasting adventure, a perfect gift for that someone special or treat yourself!
How did Sake come into my life? I guess you can blame Kimonos! (yes that really is me, even hubby didn’t recognise me!) When you go to Japan you really can’t pass up the opportunity to wear one and enjoy some sake bar hopping as part of the experience! Of course, I had encountered Sake way back when I was studying for my wine exams in London, but it wasn’t until I actually travelled to Japan that I really began to realise what freshly brewed artisan sake could be compared with the stuff we had drunk in the UK which was pretty awful and just seemed to make my husband pass out!
It wasn’t very long before I had become super curious about the story of Sake, why its name is wrong (more about that later) and how drinking it can actually protect and improve your health. I dove in deep and studied with the London based Sake Sommelier Association (the oldest sake training institution outside of Japan) and the Sake Education Council in Tokyo wanting to really get to the weird and wonderful details that enrich our understanding of culture, history, and gourmet foods.
So now to share it! I’m very excited that master of Wine Mike Henley has agreed to host the first ever Hawkes Bay Sake Sommelier Association training at his gorgeous Cellar 495 in Hastings on Wednesday 18th October at 1pm, so if you are even a teeny bit curious then book your spot, included is all the sake tastings, a guided experience and plenty of fun discovering the magic and mystery of sake, including why its name is wrong of course!
How did we meet? Was it at the Women’s Expo in Wellington, at the pop up tasting room in Martinborough or maybe through a friend, however we came together I want to thank you for your support with my fledgling business, it’s more than a bit mad to begin a new journey at any stage in life (at least that’s what my whanau are telling me) but Covid gave me time to dig deep and try to understand what I really want to do with my life and from that came the determination to share what I love about Japanese culture and how it entwines with our life here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
It turns out that our love of health and wellbeing, nature and our respect for kaitiakanga resonates deeply with Japanese beliefs too, part of the reason they love us kiwis is because they recognize a kindred spirit in us and they are super interested in hearing all about our land, our stories and building a bridge of friendship for a better world for us all.
I think my obsession with Japan began with gardening, in 1986 I designed my first garden, and it had a Koi Pond, a tea house and a small Japanese bridge! It was our first home and now looking back I can see why my neighbours thought it was rather an odd thing to create however I clearly didn’t pay much attention to their mumblings as I have just finished a new Japanese garden in Greytown!
What fascinates me is the unusual, the curious and how diving deep into the food, drink and culture of Japan has brought me amazing experiences and friendships and now I get to share these with you! Writing our first email has been fun and we really hope to meet you again soon, our special sake is now available at Karahui in Martinborough and Brac & Bow in Featherston