Grapes

Mr. Shinichi Suzuki, Director of the Grape Section, Farmer’s Market “Aguri”

Mr. Shinichi Suzuki

It will soon be the full autumn harvest season and the grape harvest has just begun. At “Aguri,” a Farmer’s Market in the Kushibiki area, it is said that more than 60 varieties of grapes are sold throughout the entire season, which captured our gastronomic interest, and we paid a visit to the Director of the Grape Section of the “Aguri” for an interview.

On 31st August, when we visited Mr. Shinichi Suzuki, the lingering summer heat was unusually intense. There were greenhouses between his house and the grapes were growing beautifully in abundance. As expected, more than 60 varieties of grapes are handled at the “Aguri.” At Mr. Suzuki’s greenhouses, 21 varieties of grapes are cultivated, said the Director. When we asked him to tell us names of all the varieties, Mr. Suzuki admirably answered with all 21 varieties without the slightest hesitation, which was an awesome moment.

In the Kushibiki area, fruits including grapes, have traditionally been cultivated since old times. Compared to renowned grape production regions, however, the cultivation areas were far smaller and a stable yield could not be ensured. It was thus difficult to distribute the grapes to the market that consequently resulted, for the grapes farmers, in selling the fruit on their own.

When he seeks for a new variety, he assesses to see, through agriculture newspapers and catalogues, if the variety is a good one and it is in line with a trend. (The photo below shows Mr. Suzuki’s catalogues of the grapes and other fruits.) After planting new seedlings, it takes two years to grow and harvest the grapes for sale. In two years, hopefully yet another new variety might be sold at the “Aguri.”

Mr. Suzuki’s catalogues of the grapes and other fruits
Aside from grapes, Mr. Suzuki cultivates persimmons, Japanese pears, Western pears and apples. He works only with his partner even during the busiest time of the season. Despite their hectic days, Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki cultivate the fruits that can be harvested only by themselves. It never occurs to us that only two growers manage to run their business in such a widespread vineyard with delicate grapes cultivation technology.

 

Mr. Suzuki finds it interesting to learn about what he doesn’t know. For his own research, he has visited a fruit experiment center in Okayama Prefecture, located more than a thousand kilometers away from home. Of all the fruits he cultivates, growing grapes is the most interesting, according to him.

“Cultivating the grapes is the most interesting. It’s difficult but interesting. It takes a lot of work, but is interesting. I have a real sense of achievement.”

We also asked him about the future. Successor problem seems to be serious. There exist successors for the flower plantation and vegetable cultivation but heirs to fruit cultivation are few in number. Unlike vegetables, a harvest of the fruits takes place once a year. According to Mr. Suzuki, cultivating fruits is a “gamble.”

The “Aguri” wants to nurture successors in the context of an inclusive structure for their businesses, advising them of both the enjoyment and the challenges of fruit cultivation.

Mr. Suzuki, the Director of the Grape Section was an ardent agriculturist who adores the grapes in the Kushibiki area.

Grapes sold at "Aguri"

On the interview day, we also visited the “Aguri.” In the Market, 15 varieties of grapes were for sale. Such a wide range of varieties made us indecisive in selecting which variety we should purchase. The number of varieties will reach its peak in mid-September.