Know Umeshu

Umeshu Behind The Scenes (Let’s go to Wakayama!)

Nanko Ume, the highest quality plum, is a well-known specialty of Wakayama Prefecture.

In Wakayama, various kinds of plum are cultivated, including Nanko-ume, and companies such as Honba Minabe and Tanabe, centered on major sake brewers, produce umeshu that are rich in individuality.

In this blog, we will Introduce how Nanko-ume are made in Wakayama to show you the story of Umeshu behind the scenes.

How are Nanko-ume made in Wakayama?

Generous sunshine, well-drained soil, warm climate, and mineral-rich sea breeze carried by the Kuroshio Current.

Because of the special geographical environment, Wakayama becomes the No.1 plum production area.

There are 9 sides that Wakayama people are making efforts to.

  1. Apply compost to the fields to improve the soil.By preparing soil that is suitable for cultivating ume, the vigor of the tree is maintained and the yield of ume is stabilized.
  2. Seeds harvested from excellent plum trees are planted in a field and grown for two years. Then grown tree branches are cut from the base and grafted onto another good tree branch. Through this way, good fruit-bearing seedlings can be made.
  3. Weeds have the role of preventing the soil from drying out and softening the soil, but proper mowing is also necessary. Every year in April and September, Wakayama people mow overgrown weeds in their fields.
  4. Prune trees from November to January each year. Control tree shape and organize branches to improve sunlight and wind.
  5. Because Nanko-ume cannot self-pollinate, it needs pollen from different ume varieties. Therefore, they create an environment that facilitates crossbreeding by planting crossed trees or grafting trees.
  6. Beehives are set up in the fields during the flowering season in February to allow honeybees to mate. The minimum temperature at which honey bees are active is said to be 8°C, and the weather at the time of flowering greatly affects the crop pattern of that year.
  7. If the ume are cultivated without pesticides, they will not be of good quality due to damage caused by pests. In order to protect the delicate plums, they do the minimum necessary pest control. 
  8. Only plums that have ripened and naturally fallen from the tree are used for making umeboshi. Nets are laid under the trees during the harvest season to prevent damage from falling and pests from entering unpicked plums.
  9. The harvest season is about one month from early June to early July. The plums ripen on the tree, turn yellow, and naturally fall to the ground.

Through this blog, you must have known the famous plum brand in Wakayama more clearly.

We recommend you visit Wakayama and take part in the programs of experiencing harvesting or pruning plums personally.

About Umeshu Lovers

Made with the finest ume plums from Japan, Umeshu is an apéritif with a sweet-sour flavour.  

Known commonly as “Japanese Plum Wine”, Umeshu is among the most well-known alcoholic beverages in Japan and is slowly gaining popularity worldwide.  

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