Whether you're a wine connoisseur or not, you will find Ushiku Chateau to be a charming place to have a family outing.
Within its spacious confines, you will find a variety of indoor and outdoor restaurants in beautiful garden settings and in historical buildings. First built in the latter Meiji Era, the buildings of the winery are quite interesting in themselves, and house both a winery museum and wine casks used to ferment the famous Ushiku wines.
If the weather is nice, one has a variety of outdoor settings in which to enjoy a grilled barbecue dinner. Meals are ordered at a central station (courses range from 1200 yen to 3500 yen) and are then delivered to your choice of places. The bamboo garden is particularly beautiful and consists of several thatched roof cubicles enclosed in a forest of huge bamboos. The "mini SL" barbecue is popular with kids and consists of a 1/7 scale size steam locomotive running down a 50 m tract that delivers the food to your table, which is enclosed in a giant wine barrel.
During September and early October, you can also pick your own grapes in the vineyard (generally somewhat cheaper than the prices you pay in the store), and until early November, you can dig your own potatoes. The vineyard entrance fee is 250 yen (includes some grape samples) or 800 yen if you take a bunch home with you. The potato patch fee is 600 yen and includes 6 large potatoes.
Reservations are generally not needed on weekdays, but at peak times, you may want to check, especially for large groups. The number is 0298-73-3151. The easiest way to find it by car is to go across the Joban Railway Line on route 408 (Ushiku-Gakuen Sen) and turn right at the second light onto the 4-lane road heading into Ushiku. Turn right at the second light just before the pedestrian overpass and follow that road as it gradually curves to the left. The vineyards are off to the left and the chateau is on your right. Bon appetite!
P.S. The wine is great!
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