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How Yuki Nakano of Kunoh Wines is using Japanese sensibilities to inform his winemaking

How Yuki Nakano of Kunoh Wines is using Japanese sensibilities to inform his winemaking

Yuki Nakano is a flying winemaker, a recent phenomenon indulged by that of young vignerons who, instead of committing to one plot, chase seasons all over the world. They decide what they work with, who they work with and what they produce, to an ever-intriguing array of results. It’s an exercise in creativity and freedom as a winemaker, less about the beauty of growing fruit themselves. He floats mostly between Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

The Kunoh Wines 2018 vintage released by Yuki Nakano in 2020 was easily one of the stand out releases of the year. The Kyoto native creates delicate, complex wines that he says, are designed to work with the clean, fresh, umami-laden foods of his homeland, Japan.



This makes sense, give that he was a world-class sommelier before he began his career in winemaking. It makes even more sense when you learn that he refuses to eat anything that is not traditional Japanese food, for fear that it will warp his highly-tuned palate!

After an epiphany-inducing trip to Italy that culminated in a stage at the excellent Poggio Scalette estate in Chianti, his next move was making wine as part of the team at Barossa’s Small Fry. Yuki-San ultimately settled in New Zealand’s Moutere as assistant to Alex Craighead at Kindeli. And that’s how he got the opportunity to begin creating this incredible range of wines.

The wines tend to be blends of several different grape varieties. He’s very interested in how these blends work to create something complex and wholistic, and of course how that interplay works with food. The whites tend to have varying levels of skin contact and sit along the spectrum of white to orange. The reds are lightly macerated, again with incredible detail.



His winemaking philosophy is very much on the natural / biodynamic end of the spectrum. To paraphrase Yuki: his wine making philosophy is 95% growing and picking in the vineyard and 5% wine making. He believes in respecting nature when borrowing from the Earth. So, all his wines are made by his hands (and feet) from fermentation to bottling, a complete approach to pure winemaking (no filtration, fining and no additives at all) and grown using organic practices.

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