Local wine shop offers sake brewing classes with ShiraFuji

ShiraFuji started in Japan around 1650, making the brand more than a century older than the U.S.A.

Centuries of sake brewing experience can be at your fingertips — and your o-choko.

Mikey Williams, owner of Plateau Wine and Beer, has teamed up with Woodinville sake brewer ShiraFuji for a multi-week class where attendees can make, and bring home, their own alcoholic beverage.

ShiraFuji is new(ish) to Washington, having moved the brewery from Japan in 2019 after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant failure, which destroyed the business that operated for more than 300 years in nearby Futaba Town. The distillery is family-owned and is currently run by Shuhei and Mari Tomisawa, respectively 20th and 21st generation sake brewers.

Sake is different from wine, beer, or other spirits in many ways — maybe most because unlike the main ingredients used in other alcoholic products, rice doesn’t have any sugar to ferment into alcohol. To compensate, brewers use koji mold (which is also used in the production of miso, mirin, and soy sauce) to start ethanol production.

“They call it brewing, because it’s made more like beer,” Williams said. “But it drinks more like wine because it’s the alcoholic strength roughly of wine.”

But the final product — strong or diluted, polished or cloudy, straight or mixed, or even served hot or cold to suit the flavors best — is wholly unique, he continued.

“I’d love to invite people who are sake enthusiasts like me and people who are new to sake to this experience,” Willaims said. “There’s something distinct about enjoying something you created yourself and sharing it with friends.”

Classes start this Sunday, Feb. 18, at ShiraFuji (18800 142nd Ave NE Unit#1A Woodinville) and will go on for four to six weeks (depending on how long the process takes); classes will start at 11 a.m. and last approximately two hours. This is not a Plateau Wine and Beer club member- or Enumclaw resident-only experience, but is open to anyone interested in learning more about sake history and brewing techniques.

The cost of the class is $300, but students also get to walk away from the experience with a dozen bottles of the sake they helped make.

To register or pay, contact Williams at mikey@friendswithbeverages.club or 360-825-2734, or stop by Plateau Wine and Beer on Cole Street.