Though the Japanese have been drinking rice wine since A.D. 300, the fermented beverage is just catching on in this country. Sake sales in the United States quadrupled during the 1990s. Some restaurants—Syun Izakaya (503-640-3131), near Portland, and San Francisco's Ozumo (415-882-1333)—now feature "sake lists." But the best place to gain a more nuanced appreciation for this ancient elixir is at a nearby sakery.
SakéOne (503-357-7056) in Forest Grove, Ore., is the largest sake producer outside of Japan. Try brews infused with raspberries and Asian pears.
Takara Sake (510-540-8250) in Berkeley, Calif. (pictured above), demonstrates the brewing process at a sake museum.
Hakusan Sake Gardens (707-258-6160) in Napa, Calif., and Gekkeikan Sake (916-985-3111) in Folsom, Calif., both feature Japanese gardens.
Things to keep in mind: Sake is as varied and subtle as wine. Premium sake is served cold, while that of lesser quality is served hot.
Photography by Dan Dion
This article was first published in November 2002. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.