Fuyu Fest 2023

Fuyu Fest poster: an image of river otters frolicking in the snow with sake and onigiri all around them.

Fuyu Fest (冬祭り) is a Winter sake festival from Sunflower Sake.

Date: Saturday, January 21st, 2023
Time: 2-5PM
Location: Olympic Mills Building, 107 SE Washington St entrance
Cost before January 14th: $50 General Admission, $70 with commemorative handmade cup 
Cost after January 14th: $55/ $77 (while supplies last)

With SakeFest PDX (2010-2019) seemingly discontinued, Sunflower Sake owner Nina Murphy has decided to pick up the reigns and bring a new sake festival to Portland. Murphy is leaning into sake's inherent seasonality with the inaugural Fuyu (Japanese for Winter) Fest: a Winter sake festival that emphasizes curation, education and immersion, with a balance of sake and non-alcoholic activities.  

"Sake follows a seasonal calendar, a bit like fruit-infused ales in Summer and chocolate stouts in Winter. In Japan, Winter is the primary season for sake: it's the time of year that sake is being brewed, fresh releases are hitting the market, and warm sake is paired with hot soups, noodles, and hot spring soaking tubs. With Fuyu Fest we can explore the connection between sake and Winter, and bring some excitement to the coldest time of year."

A downward photo of a sake sampling table with a variety of craft sake being poured for guests, next to informational sheets.
Instead of sake quantity, Murphy decided to prioritize quality: hand-selecting over 50 craft Japanese sake for her favorite distributors and importers to pour at the inaugural Fuyu Fest.

"I know from professional wine and sake tastings that sampling 50, 100, or more products can be exhausting and overwhelming, especially when there is a wide range in quality.  I'd rather taste a well-curated, but smaller selection of samples chosen by a trusted professional."

Representatives from Tsuji Honten, makers of Gozenshu Bodaimoto; Choryo Shuzo, makers of Choryo Taruzake; and Sasaichi Shuzo, makers of Dan, have flown in from Japan and will be sharing the love of all things sake with attendees.
A photo of a green bottle of Gozenshu Bodaimoto sake, which has a wood block print illustration on its label.
"There is no one more passionate about sake than its makers, and no one in the world who is more grateful to hear your appreciation for their product. As a huge personal fan of the brands Gozenshu, Choryo and Dan, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to kampai with representatives from each of these breweries, thanking them for their beautiful sake-- and I hope you will, too! Let's show them how welcoming Portland is, and how much we love sake!"

As you peruse the samples, taste with your reusable wood sake cup or splurge a bit: spending $20 to upgrade your ticket to include a handmade ceramic cup from local artist Michelle Sparnicht. Michelle has been crafting ceramic wares for over 15 years, and collaborated with Sunflower Sake to produce a limited number of elegant, ice-blue glazed, commemorative sake cups for Fuyu Fest: each stamped with the Sunflower Sake logo.

A photo of the commemorative sake cup upgrade made by Michelle Sparnicht."For sake to become a major feature of Pacific Northwest culture, It's important to take inspiration from Japanese sake culture and then make it our own. With all of the artists and creatives in Portland, the potential for innovation and reinvention is huge. By having a local ceramic artist produce beautiful, handcrafted sakazuki-- shallow sake cups-- for attendees, Fuyu Fest is not only making a statement about culture creation but also about its values. Supporting artists, combatting throw-away culture, and investing in the local economy are all part of Fuyu Fest's ethos."

A photo of Obon's brown rice onigiriAfter finishing your complimentary snack pack, take a break with a warm cup of Obon's famous kenchinjiru (miso-vegetable soup) and a few vegan onigiri. Wash it all down with Mizuba Tea Co. sencha tea or strawberry milk (v/nv) from Electrica PDX, finishing with a sweet bite from Yellow Heart Sunshine Bakery.

"While SakeFest PDX was awesome in offering food samples from local restaurants, Fuyu Fest is in its first year and needed to keep things small to start. So we've partnered with our good friends, neighbors, and fellow sake lovers Obon Shokudo to offer wholesome, vegan Winter bites, and Yellow Heart Sunshine Bakery to offer a small selection of sweet baked goods for sale. Since it's always best to alternate sake with non-alcoholic drinks, we've also partnered with Electrica PDX and Mizuba Tea Co to offer mizudashi (iced sencha tea) and strawberry milk (vegan available), included in your ticket."

Two people in the snow preparing a campfire with a warm carafe of sake
With hunger satisfied and curiosity piqued, pay a visit to the Snow Peak Kanzake Tent, where you can get hands-on and learn how to prepare hot sake at camp for your friends: the perfect campfire treat! Try Kubota sake, a Niigata favorite, at 3 different temperatures to see for yourself how warm sake becomes mellow and sweet. The warmth of mulled wine without the fuss (but all the vibes!)

A scene of a campfire warming a carafe of hot sake in front of the Deschutes river at sunset."Camping has to be one of our favorite pastimes in the Pacific Northwest. And I think sake is the best drink to bring to camp. It comes in cans, all sorts of sizes, and best of all: it can be enjoyed at any temperature, especially warm! How perfect on a chilly February evening at the coast to heat a carafe of sake with friends, warming yourselves from the inside out. As a Japanese outdoor company whose central concept is 'Takibi Time'-- campfire time with friends-- Snow Peak has a beautiful setup for sake warming, serves hot sake in their NW restaurant Takibi, and even offers a titanium sake set. I couldn't think of a better partner to share this activity with festival guests."
Cup in hand, take a seat and learn about sake in the Pacific Northwest from guest speakers like Miguel Marquez, award-winning hospitality director of Republica Restaurant Group and beverage consultant for several Japanese restaurants in Portland. Or Marcus Pakiser, longtime sake industry vet and Sake Samurai: the highest honor granted to international sake educators. 

"When it comes to this ancient beverage, there's so much to learn. Its popularity has exploded over the last few years, and we're seeing small craft breweries popping up all over the US: an indication of things to come. But it's difficult subject to understand, with lots of terminology and unfamiliar customs. So I'm excited to have a few awesome speakers present at Fuyu Fest to talk about sake and educate guests on how it's made, how to enjoy it, and personal experiences working with sake in Portland."

When you're done with tasting, talks, vendors and artists, you'll have the opportunity to purchase the sake you loved at Fuyu Fest for 15% off the retail price-- an exclusive offer, limited to event guests on event day only. It's a great chance to stock up for the rest of the Winter season. 
A photo of the lunch program at Ikoi no Kai, with 3 guests enjoying their bento meal
In keeping with Fuyu Fest's values, 20% of all ticket revenues will be donated to Ikoi no Kai, a nonprofit lunch program primarily serving the senior Japanese-American community in Portland. Fuyu Fest and its sponsors are proud to support Ikoi no Kai, acknowledging the contributions of the elder nikkei community in forming Portland's diverse cultural identity.

Note that this event is strictly limited to ages 21+ and identification will be checked at entry. Please drink responsibly.

Sliding scale:
Guests interested but unable to afford the cost, especially those in the F&B/hospitality industry, are encouraged to contact the organizer at info@fuyufest.org for a sliding-scale ticket.

Vendors and sponsors:

An image depicting the many logos of vendors and sponsors.
Republic National Distributing Company
Kome Collective
JFC Imports
Joto Sake 
Fifth Taste Sake
Sake Suki
Galaxy Wine Co/ Wilson Daniels
Mutual Trading Company
Mitchell Wine Group
Niigata Sake Selections
Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits
World Sake Imports

Snow Peak
Heart Fire Ceramics

Food and Nonalcoholic Drink
Obon Shokudo
Yellow Heart Bakery
Electrica PDX
Mizuba Matcha Co