11/25/2015, 00.00
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From tsunami to winemaking, Fukushima starts over

The Fukushima Ouse Winery began operations on 27 October some 70 kilometres from the area devastated by the 2011 tsunami. Local farmers will provide the grapes. For one farmer, it will “show people how Fukushima has recovered”.

Koriyama (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Fukushima Ouse Winery, located in the Ouse-machi district in Koriyama, plans to make wine from grapes grown in the hills around Fukushima, the area affected by the tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011.

A joint venture of the city government of Koriyama and the Foundation for the assistance to the disasters of Mitsubishi, the new company will help local farmers recover from the disaster of four years ago.

Officially launched on 27 October, the winery will produce wines using locally harvested grapes. To reach this goal, it has formed a tie-up with four local grape farmers.

The winery also plans to produce fruit liqueurs using peaches, pears and apples harvested in Fukushima Prefecture.

“I was a bit sceptical if the project would be viable when I was first offered the chance to grow wine grapes, but I also thought that the project would fit perfectly with my desire to show people how Fukushima has recovered,” said Hideaki Nakao, a 37-year-old farmer who is participating in the project.

For a start, the winery opened on a 9,000-square-metre city-owned plot in the Ouse-machi district, some 70 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The construction cost, including the cost of 26 winemaking tanks, and the initial cost of raw materials, totalled about 1 billion yen (US$ 8.14 million). The brewing tanks can store up to 38,000 litres of wine.

The winery also plans to set up a tasting room and allow visitors to tour the facility by March 2017 to attract more tourists to the area.

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