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  The History of Vinos Yamazaki  
  In 1913, Toyosaku Yamazaki, the son of a farmer in rural Shizuoka, founded a liquor shop in the Tokiwa-cho district of Shizuoka City. Along with locally brewed sake, the modest store also sold select soy sauce and miso paste from the surrounding areas.
Years later, Tatsumi Yamazaki took over the family store. To improve the business he started an innovative service that delivered sake directly to peopleís houses. He also pioneered a distinctive vending system where he would cart a wooden trolley loaded with sake throughout the streets of Shizuoka. The "sake trolley" essentially acted as a mobile street stall. Over the years, the rigorous physical demands of pulling sake through the streets took their toll, yet paved the way for further innovation.
Tatsumi noticed that many customers inquired about which local sake breweries were the best. With these customer requests in mind, he set his sights on the idea of delivering only the finest brands of locally brewed sake. Immersing himself in this idea, he scoured the farming communities near his hometown of Shizuoka to discover that some brewers were indeed producing very high-quality sake.
In those days, most local sake was sold by small individual brewers in bulky barrels. Tatsumi got the idea to poll his customers to ask them about their preferred taste in sake. He would bring this information back to the sake brewers so that they could produce the taste his customers wanted. At that time, it was common for local brewers to work in isolation so as to keep age-old recipes a secret. Realizing that each brewer guarded aspects about their own specialized method of producing sake, Tatsumi suggested that these small organizations work together to share ideas. He formed the first co-operative group of local sake brewers in Japan. When brewers started to share confidential techniques, the sum of their parts was exceedingly well received. This, combined with Tatsumi's intimate knowledge of what customers favored began to yield superb results.
Over time, this revolutionary collaboration led to the manufacturing of the legendary Shizuoka sake known today throughout Japan as"Ginjyou-shu". Nowadays, Tatsumi Yamazaki is acknowledged as"the pioneer of local Japanese sake."
"The Yamazaki sake business was developed by our customers, so our mission is to seek out and provide what the customer wants," he says.
Yuko (Yamazaki) Tanemoto, Tatsumi Yamazakiís eldest daughter, joined the family business about 15 years ago. When she started to work at the Yamazaki store the business consisted of mostly sake sales. Although the store had been carrying a very small selection of wine, all the bottles were from Bordeaux or Bourgogne and came from other importers.
Yuko was quite interested in wine and wanted to carry more, but there didn't seem to be much demand for it. During this period, she began a deep study about business merchandising. Through this, she came to learn what would be the most important thing for their retail stores. Actually, she didnít have to look very far, for it was the same thing that her father had learned years prior.
Just as her father before her, Yuko started asking customers about what they preferred about wine. As she acted on these suggestions the entire wine portion of the business grew. The driving force was to provide tastes that customers preferred, not necessarily what so-called wine experts thought should be carried in the store. It was a customer-centered process.
Yuko paid strict attention to what customers requested. She discovered first and foremost that they wanted to enjoy delicious wine at competitive prices. The cost-to-value ratio was single-handedly the most frequent comment raised by customers. Much to her surprise, customers didnít care at all about how famous the wine is or even where it is from. They also revealed that they felt overwhelmed by a vast array of wines; they wanted to select bottles effortlessly. Armed with this valuable information, she remodeled the store creating a very relaxing and inviting customer-centered atmosphere. Well-educated staff members assist customers so that informed wine buying decisions can be easily made.
In 1993, Vinos Yamazaki began directly importing wine to Japan. Yuko visited small vineyards in the region of Langdoc, France a place then completely unfamiliar to the Japanese wine market. There she found very good quality wine that was inexpensively priced. It was through this effort that Langdoc was put on the map in Japan.
Vinos Yamazaki believes that great wine is the product of the greatest wine makers, those who are very passionate in their wine making.
Like Tatsumi Yamazaki's passionate hunting throughout Shizuoka Prefecture in search of the best sake, the employees of Vinos Yamazaki vigorously scour the world in a quest for wine that meets the standards of their customers.
When a wine supplier is identified, Vinos Yamazaki forges a familial relationship with them. The chateau owners and wine makers are frequently invited to Japan where Vinos Yamazaki acts as a direct liason between the wine producers and customers. It is vital that customers have an opportunity to actually meet the people directly responsible for making great wine. Parties, seminars and events are organized to put these groups in touch with each other. This way, customers can truly feel the honest passion of the makers. It is a true bridging of the gap between cultures.
The main corporate office for Vinos Yamazaki and the Shizuoka retail store are located very close to the international sea port at Shimizu, Japan. Upon entry to Japan at Shimizu, wine is stored in Vinos Yamazakiís very own temperature-controlled warehouses located right at the port to insure its quality. From there, the Shimizu warehouses act as the main distribution center so wine can be sent directly to customers and retail stores.
Vinos Yamazaki is now in the process of creating a new organization. It will establish a group of liquor and wine shops that will join together to help manage distribution, provide better service, and serve the best quality wine. Named CMV (Club Magazine du Vin), it aims to sell the highest quality products to all wine lovers.
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