Located in the Ibaraki Prefecture on the northeastern part of the Kanto region, Yoshikubo Sake Brewery Company - known for its traditional sake - has been producing Japan's traditional alcoholic drink since 1790.

Now the brewery is producing new varieties, like the fruity Ippin Chokara Junmai, and 12th generation brewer Satoshi Yoshikubo is in Auckland hoping to open new markets and win over a new generation of drinkers.

Yoshikubo is one of seven brewers from Japan who were at the Japanese Consul General's residence in Glendowie on Monday to promote their sake.

The event, which included sake tasting, was attended by about 30 Auckland hospitality chiefs, business leaders, sommeliers and politicians.


It followed the first Auckland Sake Festival at the ASB Showgrounds on Sunday.

"Sake is a traditional drink for Japan, but it is something we hope will also become popular overseas," said Consul General Yoshitaka Yokoyama.

"Each sake has very different taste, just like wine, and people will be able to find a sake that will suit their taste."

Yokoyama believed there is a lack of knowledge and little promotion of sake here.

Exports from Japan's National Tax Agency show that exports make up less than 3 per cent of total production.

With a global push and government help, it is hoped that the nation's rice wine will gain popularity just as its sushi did.

Yokoyama said New Zealand was still an "untapped market" and he felt it would be easy for Kiwis to like sake.

"Sake pairs very well with New Zealand cuisine and products, and I hope they can sometimes take sake instead of wine or beer," he said.


"It is also good for health, and in Japan it is considered a medicine for longevity."

Sake is made from rice, rice mould called koji in Japanese and water, and they vary in alcohol content.

But unlike wine, sake has no vintage and is not aged like wine.

Yoshikubo, 30, who is now based in Sydney, said sake producers were now producing more flavoured sake, infused with fruit such as yuzu or plum.

"This new method flavoured sake, which is lighter and much fruitier, makes it easier to start for newcomers to the drink," he said.

"This will create an interest in sake and drinkers can have the traditional, authentic sake when they are more familiar."

Yoshikubo, who is also the brewery's international sales manager, said the aim was to convert Kiwi wine drinkers, or at least add sake to their choice of beverages.

Haru Takase, from Hakutsuru Sake Brewing Company in Kobe, said she hoped restaurants would add sake on to their beverage lists.

"I hope more non-Japanese restaurants in New Zealand will put sake on their menu," she said.

Kei Shimatani, Auckland Sake Festival organiser and importer, said sake sales in New Zealand had increased about 30 per cent in the past year.

He believed this had to do with the growing popularity of Japanese food here.