In 1980’s when jizake (local sake) became a trend, the Yamagata Sake Brewer’s Association established the Yamagata Sake Rice Production Promotion Council in 1984, with the help of the group of rice producers, out of the necessity to create local sake brands and its own sake rice suitable for high quality sake. It started the development of sake rice in cooperation with Shonai Branch, Department of Agro-Production Science, Yamagata General Agricultural Research Center (currently known as Rice Breeding and Crop Science Experiment Station). When the sake grading system was abolished in 1992, they focused on the development of sake rice suitable for ginjoshu and junmai ginjoshu. 11 years later in 1995, Dewa Sansan (registered in 1997) was born from Miyama Nishiki (Nagano Prefecture) as the mother and Hanafubuki (Aomori Prefecture) as the father. It has been highly praised for its high resistance to cold and lodging, larger grains, larger manifestation of shinpaku (white-core), cultivation characteristics and its aptitude for brewing sake.
Grown only in Yamagata, Dewa Sansan is the most consumed sake rice in Yamagata. In 1995, under the concept of “all made in Yamagata”, based on the common requirements, which are that ingredients should only be developed in Yamagata, such as 100% Dewa Sansan sake rice, original Yamagata yeast and koji-kin mold Oryzae Yamagata, and that the polishing ratio should be under 55%, a junmai ginjoshu called DEWA 33 was born. The taste of DEWA 33 is unique to each brewery and has a high reputation for the soft, rich and deep flavor. In 2003, a junmai daiginjoshu called Yamagata Sanga was produced using Dewa Sansan with the 40% polishing ratio. There are songs for DEWA 33 and Yamagata Sanga, which are available on the website of Yamagata Sake Brewer’s Association. With a spirit of all made in Yamagata, Yamagata’s sake received GI (Geographical Indication) Yamagata in 2016. Yamagata is the only region in Japan that has registered sake GI as a prefecture. (Photos by: Yamagata Integrated Agricultural Research Center)