Uka (the Japanese word for “emergence”) is a collaboration between two iconic families across the Pacific Ocean. The rice from Koda Farms, a Japanese-founded farm in Merced County, California, is transformed into sake by the 19th-generation team at Ninki Shuzo, in the heart of Japan’s prized Fukushima prefecture.
Keisaburo Koda is a Fukushima native who immigrated to the United States more than a century ago. Convinced that California offered ideal terroir for fine rice cultivation, he dedicated his life to elevating rice strains like Kokuho Rose, a unique variety that gives one-of-a-kind aromatics and a silken texture. Third-generation Ross Koda, who currently manages Koda Farms, had the original idea to produce saké using their organic rice; he sought the advice and assistance of Yujin Yusa, president of Ninki Shuzo.
In Fukushima, the Ninki Shuzo clan has been using the pristine waters of Mount Adatara to brew crystalline and expressive sakes for several centuries. These pure, unadulterated water – which originate from snowfall and filter naturally through underground aquifers for 40 years before reaching the brewery- give incredible minerality and focus, and are responsible for countless award-winning sakes.
Uka sakes combine the Koda and Ninki Shuzo legacies, with great results.
“I was passionate about creating good quality saké using our rice and I think we accomplished that,” said Koda. “My late grandfather, Keisaburo Koda, was dedicated to promoting relations between the U.S. and Japan, and I am seeking to do the same with this saké.”