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This was an event I have been looking forward to since I heard of it waaaay back in August as a fun thing to do. Coco Vineyards is one of the few places in Japan that grows its own grapes and produces its own wine, and it isn’t bad wine at that! The Annual Harvest Fest is a BIIIIG favorite with the JETs in particular and most people who drink wine in general.

Basically, 2000 yen (less than $20) got you your choice of a bottle of a special 2008 Harvest Fest red, white, or rose, a special 2008 wine glass (which most people didn’t bother with…), and a few odds and ends like a button to let people know you’d payed to be there. On top of that, you can also buy more types of wines, including champagne. Finally, they had live music and foods and other cool things like that.

We started out at a pretty decent hour on Saturday taking the train to Ashikaga, in Tochigi Prefecture (one over from Gunma North-East-ish) and getting there around noon to take the bus up to the vineyard. The event actually opened much earlier, but it was chilly, and we didn’t want to get up too early. It worked out that way, and we still had plenty of time to have fun at the festival.

We got our bottles of wine (I got the rose, Kenji and Ken the white). Shauna had gotten there earlier with Dave, the Fujioka High School JET, and so they had a head start on us. We got to drinking and walking around (carefully, the vineyard is steep), talking with random folks, and generally having a good time.

Coming up on the vineyard…

…and realizing they weren’t kidding when they said it was among the vines. Whee!

Standing in front of the sign

Everyone just found a spot and camped out

Shauna, Dave, and John below us.

But Shauna joins us for a picture of the Fuj ALTs.

Right among the vines

Enjoying my wine!

At this point, we were a little tipsy and felt like walking, so we decided it would be a great idea to walk up the (incredibly steep) hill to the top. It was definitely worth the view, but hard going when you don’t quite have total control of your senses. We weren’t the only ones with this thought in mind, and met several JETs at the top who were nice enough to take our picture.

Half way there…

…we stop for a break, haha

At this point this band playing really beautiful Irish violin-type music came on, so that helped us on our way to the top.

WOW, look at that view! This calls for a celebration… pour another glass!

Awwww aren’t we cute?

We got a cool picture of a wine bottle at the top too

And the BEST PICTURE of Shauna ever!

There were around 3000 people there that day, so the line for the bus was an unpleasant 3 hours in the rain. We came home pretty tired, but had a great time! Sunday was indeed spent as a recovery day, but more for spending no time at home rather than nursing a headache. 3 hours in the rain was enough to sober up most of the people!