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The Niigata Wine Coast: Enjoy A Night of Luxury Among the Vineyards of Cave d'Occi

The Niigata Wine Coast: Enjoy A Night of Luxury Among the Vineyards of Cave d'Occi

Date published: 1 September 2022

Along with sake and rice, the northwestern prefecture of Niigata is also famed for its picturesque vineyards yielding high-quality local wine. Five different wineries make up the Niigata Wine Coast, each with its own unique characteristics.

The largest and oldest of the bunch is Cave d'Occi, which has expanded its facilities to include hot springs, spa services, restaurants, and even accommodation, allowing visitors to spend the night amongst the lush nature and expansive Niigata vineyards.

Top picture: Cave d'Occi

What Is the Niigata Wine Coast?

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

The Niigata Wine Coast is a vineyard region located in the spacious southwestern outskirts of Niigata City. Despite technically being a part of the city, the area is rural and remote, mainly consisting of farmland and quiet beaches, all within view of the iconic mountains of Kakudayama and Yahiko.

Part of the famously fertile Echigo Plain, the soil here is fine and sand-like and has long been highlighted as an area suitable for grape cultivation. There is also little snowfall here, a rarity in Niigata, and the high humidity protects the vines and buds.

The first winery to venture into the area was Cave d'Occi in 1992, which aimed to create wines using both 100% domestic Japanese grapes alongside European varieties, an ambition rare in Japan at the time. Inspired by the accomplishments of Cave d'Occi, several other aspiring winemakers were attracted to the area, including “Fermier” in 2006 and Domaine Chaud in 2009, growing to five wineries as of 2022.

More Than Just Wine! What to Do at Cave d'Occi

Even if wine isn’t your thing, a visit to Cave d'Occi is still more than worthwhile. Complementing the vineyards are all-natural hot springs, a smorgasbord of irresistible gourmet food, freshly brewed craft beer, two high-class hotels, and more. Let’s take a look!

Relishing the Wine of Niigata

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

After success in wine, Cave d'Occi began expanding its facilities to create an all-encompassing luxury experience. The sprawling winery is now made up of several facilities dotting the vineyards, each boasting its own specialty.

Naturally, most visitors start by sampling the wine. 60-minute Cave d'Occi winery tours with tastings are held every day at 11:00 a.m., costing 2,000 yen per person (not including tax, limited to 6 participants each day). Keep in mind that advanced reservations are required at least two days beforehand, so don’t just turn up expecting to be served (see below for the booking number).

The winery tour will take you through the vineyards, brewery, barrel aging room, wine cellar, and more. Afterwards, you’ll be treated to Cave d'Occi wines, encouraging a full appreciation of their craft. There is also a tour + food pairing course for 5,000 yen (not including tax), offering gourmet dishes painstakingly arranged to complement the wines on offer. This tour also starts from 11:00 a.m. daily, and requires advanced bookings at least two days prior.

Health & Safety Measures:
Installation of plastic sheets at register and counters, Sanitizer available, Indoor disinfection measures taken, Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature

  • Cave d'Occi Winery Tours (With Tastings)
    カーブドッチワイナリーツアー(試飲付き)
    • Address 1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan Ward, Niigata
    • ・Time: 11:00 a.m. (Tour lasts for 60 mins)
      ・Date: Every day
      ・Fee: 2,000 yen/person (not including tax)
      ・Capacity: 6 people
      ・Booking (TEL): 0256-77-2288
      ・Multilingual Options: None

  • Cave d'Occi Winery Tour and Pairing Lunch
    カーブドッチツアー&ペアリングランチ
    • Address 1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan Ward, Niigata
    • ・Time: 11:00 a.m.
      ・Date: Every day
      ・Fee: 5,000 yen/person (not including tax)
      ・Capacity: 10 people
      ・Booking (TEL): 0256-77-2288
      ・Multilingual Options: None

If the wines of Cave d'Occi are to taste, you can purchase bottles and more at the Winery Shop, located roughly in the middle of the winery. They stock all Cave d'Occi varieties, which range from around 2,000 yen up to 6,000 yen and more.

For a single winery, there’s a remarkable range on offer, including both whites and reds made from their specialty grape Albariño, along with Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. There are also plenty of off-beat, experimental wines, such as the “Funpy” series made from table grapes, and the delightfully illustrated “Animal Series,” the personal hobby of Chief Winemaker Fumito Kakegawa.

VINESPA: Soaking in an Onsen Hot Spring

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

Aside from the wine, one of the biggest draws to Cave d'Occi are the spectacular natural “onsenhot springs. Even without spending the night, Cave d'Occi’s VINESPA accommodates day-trippers for just 1,000 yen, allowing you to soak all the way from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. at night.

The women’s section has an indoor bath, two spacious open-air baths amongst a gorgeous garden, and a jet-bath to massage the body. The men’s has an indoor bath, two outdoor baths with views of the Echigo Mountains, and a far-infrared sauna and accommodating cold water bath.

The baths are all housed in a spacious yet cozy facility with ambient wooden tones. You can also fritter away the day at the book lounge with a glass of wine or coffee, along with some light pick-me-ups like pizza toast and gelato.

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

For those that prefer to bathe in privacy, there is also the private reservable outdoor bath “Garden Spa,” which can be booked for you and your partner for up to two hours (5,500 yen including tax). Additional people can join for 500 yen a head, making it ideal for families too (4 people max). The bath is tucked amongst the grape fields, and wine can be directly ordered to enjoy amongst the nourishing geothermal waters and dazzling English garden.

VINESPA also has private bookable Japanese-style tatami rest rooms, the hair salon “Aveda,” an aroma rock bath, a wealth of massage treatments, and much more. Alongside tourists, VINESPA is frequented by locals treating themselves to a day of self-care, reinvigorating their body and mind to help face the challenges of the world.

Health & Safety Measures:
Installation of plastic sheets at register and counters, Sanitizer available, Indoor disinfection measures taken, Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature

  • VINESPA
    ヴィネスパ
    • Address 1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan Ward, Niigata
    • Phone Number 0256-77-2226
    • ・Hot Spring Hours: 7:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m. (Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.)
      ・Fee: 1,000 yen (including tax)
      ・Multilingual Options: None

Pair Your Wines With Mouthwatering Local Cuisine

If the hot springs, wine, and fantastic scenery weren’t enough to keep you occupied, the Cave d'Occi restaurants will surely do the trick! There’s so much to eat at Cave d'Occi, with a variety of cuisines suiting all palates utilizing local Niigata ingredients.

You can stay close to the hot springs at “Yura,” a restaurant conveniently located within the VINESPA facility. Yura serves Japanese cuisine featuring fresh seafood directly sourced from nearby fishing ports on the Sea of Japan, along with seasonal produce from the surrounding farms. Naturally, the cream of the crop is Niigata’s renowned “koshihikari” rice, considered the best rice in Japan.

Health & Safety Measures:
Installation of plastic sheets at register and counters, Sanitizer available, Indoor disinfection measures taken, Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature

  • Yura
    湯楽
    • Address 1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan Ward, Niigata
    • ・Hours: 11:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (Closed between 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
      ・Booking (TEL): 256-77-2226
      ・Multilingual Options: None

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

Just a brief walk from VINESPA is Restaurant Travigne, which specializes in French cuisine and wine pairings. It exudes a homely yet chic aura, with ample room between tables and a welcoming wooden interior.

Dinners are a lavish assortment of around nine courses colored by the locality and winery itself. Highlights include a fromage de tête of Niigata bear meat with red wine sauce, local beef rump roast smoked in grape leaf, a risotto of koshihikari rice, and ice cream from Jersey cattle of the nearby Goto Bokujo Farm.

Lovingly sourced, prepared, and arranged, these courses serve as intimate gastronomic tours of both Cave d'Occi and Niigata as a whole. An equally extravagant lunch is also served at Restaurant Travigne, and the lunchtime winery pairing tour is held here too.

Health & Safety Measures:
Installation of plastic sheets at register and counters, Sanitizer available, Indoor disinfection measures taken, Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature

  • Restaurant Travigne
    レストラントラヴィーニュ
    • Address 1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan Ward, Niigata
    • ・Hours:
      - Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Entry until 2:00 p.m.)
      - Dinner: From 5:30 p.m., second group from 7:30 p.m. (Closes at 10:00 p.m.)
      ・Booking (Online): https://r.gnavi.co.jp/fvz7fwt60000/
      ・Booking (TEL): 0256-77-2811
      ・Multilingual Options: None

As if two restaurants weren’t enough, Cave d'Occi also hosts Makigoya, a German-influenced eatery with craft beer, pasta, homemade ham, bacon, and sausages. Guests can indulge in three types of beer - pale ale, weizen, and stout - all of which is brewed right in the restaurant.

There is also the Cote a Cote Bakery & Cafe, with homemade bread, coffee, light lunches, and more.

Spending the Night at Cave d'Occi

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

With so much on offer at Cave d'Occi, even an entire day is not enough to fully appreciate this wine-lovers paradise. Thankfully, Cave d'Occi has two separate accommodation facilities hosting travelers for the night - the previously-introduced VINESPA and Winerystay Travigne.

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

Along with day-trip plans, VINESPA has Japanese and western-style guest rooms, allowing ample use of the facilities without concern of having to make your way home.

The Japanese rooms are understated yet charming, tied together by a spacious veranda made of aromatic hinoki cypress. The western rooms are snug and homey, with a clean-cut modern style warmed up by wooden accents. Two of the rooms are a sizable 55m², giving space to fully spread out.

Until closing time, you’ll be able to enjoy all the surrounding hot springs, restaurants, wine, shopping, and spa services to your heart’s content! There are several plans to choose from with different price ranges and meals attached, so check the website to find one that suits you.

Health & Safety Measures:
Installation of plastic sheets at register and counters, Sanitizer available, Indoor disinfection measures taken, Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature

  • VINESPA Hotel
    カーブドッチヴィネスパ
    • Address 1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan Ward, Niigata
    • ・Check in: 3:00 p.m.
      ・Check out:
      - Japanese Room: 10:00 a.m.
      - Western Room: 12:00 p.m.
      ・Fee: Various plans available; see website for details
      ・Booking (Online): https://reserve.489ban.net/client/vinespa/0/plan/availability/daily/
      *In Japanese only, use Google translate for English
      ・Booking (TEL): 0256-77-2226
      ・Multilingual Options: None

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

A stroll into the vineyards will bring you to Cave d'Occi’s second accommodation: Winerystay Travigne. This hotel of 10 elegant guest rooms is completely separate from the main facilities, tucked away amongst utter silence and tranquility.

Spread out over two floors, the rooms were individually designed with unique flair, positioned to take in the best vineyard and Mt. Kakuda views. Each room boasts its own veranda with tables and chairs - the ultimate setting to sip and unwind!

There is also a spacious outdoor terrace pressed against the vineyard, along with a jazzy lounge and bar serving drinks until 11:00 p.m. for when you'd rather be inside. Upstairs is the Penthouse Salon, which reveals views of the Sea of Japan, and is particularly popular in the evening as the sun sets behind Sado Island. Dinner is held at Restaurant Travigne, which you can read all about in the Cave d'Occi food section above.

Health & Safety Measures:
Installation of plastic sheets at register and counters, Sanitizer available, Indoor disinfection measures taken, Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature

  • Winerystay Travigne
    ワイナリーステイトラヴィーニュ –
    • Address 1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan Ward, Niigata
    • ・Check in: 3:00 p.m.
      ・Check out: 11:00 a.m.
      ・Fee: Various plans available, see website for details
      ・Booking (Online): https://reserve.489ban.net/client/travigne/0/plan/availability/daily
      *Japanese only, use Google translate for English
      ・Booking (TEL): 0256-77-5460
      ・Multilingual Options: None

Breakfast at Cave d'Occi is another treat unavailable to day-trippers. Overnight guests at VINESPA will start the day off with breakfast at YURA, while those at Winerystay Travigne can indulge in freshly baked breads and more at Restaurant Travigne.

After your meal, taking an early morning stroll amongst the vineyards, before visitors begin arriving, is sure to excite you for the day ahead. Or, if you’re still feeling sleepy, hop in the hot springs for a guaranteed wake-up call.

Reservations for both VINESPA and Winerystay Travigne can be made online on the official Cave d'Occi websites (linked above). Unfortunately, there is no English version, however, Google Translate seems to work just fine. If you’re still unsure, have a Japanese speaker book for you via phone.

Getting to Cave d'Occi

While Cave d'Occi is a breezy 40-minute drive from Niigata Station, for those that plan on drinking, we recommend using the free Cave d'Occi shuttle bus service. It departs from Niigata Station and can be booked up to one day prior to your planned visit. It leaves at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and return services depart Cave d'Occi at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., giving plenty of time. Unfortunately, unless you have a few hours to spare, Cave d'Occi is a little too far from the closest train station to walk.

Other Highlights of the Niigata Wine Coast

Le CINQ Winery. Image: Le CINQ Winery
Le CINQ Winery. Image: Le CINQ Winery

You’ve come all this way - you might as well get a little adventurous! Alongside Cave d'Occi, there are a few additional smaller wineries that make up the Niigata Wine Coast worth checking out.

Right across from Cave d'Occi is WINERY & RESTAURANT FERMIER, founded in 2006. It features its own restaurant serving unique takes on French cuisine with wine, along with tours, tastings, and pairing lunches.

Nearby is Le CINQ Winery, which has an on-site wine shop and paid tasting course, along with winery tours (book in advance via the form on their website).

The other wineries are small-scale and do not have restaurants or tours, and some are not open to visitors. However, their wines are equally worth checking out, and are available at various liquor shops all throughout Niigata, such as Ponshukan in Niigata Station.

Enjoy A Taste of Europe in Rural Japan

Image: Cave d'Occi
Image: Cave d'Occi

You don’t need to travel all the way to Europe to enjoy good local wine, gourmet western cuisine, and vineyard accommodation.

Cave d'Occi on Niigata’s Wine Coast has everything you need for a relaxing getaway in Japan, including gourmet restaurants, luxury treatments, swanky accommodation, fun activities, and, of course, enough wine to last a lifetime!

Whether you stay for the day or overnight, you’ll no doubt find bliss on the Niigata Wine Coast.

Written by:

Steve Csorgo

Steve Csorgo

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Steve currently lives in Niigata City, two hours north-west of Tokyo. His passions include discovering local sake, dining at interesting restaurants and travelling as much of Japan as possible.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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