Mio, you have quite an international background. Please tell us about your interests.
I have been traveling around the globe since I was a child. When I was four years old, my family and I moved to Sydney, where I attended the International Grammar School. I then completed my Matura in Austria at La Salle School Strebersdorf. I like to spend my free time with my friends, culinary activities and sports: volleyball and table tennis in the park, cooking dinner and tasting wine. One of my great passions is painting.
What is the “Champion Sake of the Year” in Japan?
I did my internship for half a year at the “Heiwa Shuzou” sake brewery. The brewery is located in Wakayama Prefecture, which is about an hour away from Osaka. Due to the high quality of the region with ideal climatic conditions as well as fresh water supply and the applied brewing techniques of the company, the brewery was able to win the title “Champion Sake of the Year” at the “International Wine Challenge” for the second time. Especially in countries like England, Australia, Korea, Taiwan and the Netherlands, the brewery is known for its “fruit liqueurs” and Japanese sake. Furthermore, the company is trying to hire a young team, as its marketing is mainly aimed at a young audience. Its main product is called “KID”, which is written 紀土 in Kanji and translates to “the terroir of Wakayama”. The company focuses on self-sustaining agriculture, as they cultivate their own rice fields and grow yuzu and plum trees.
How did you like your internship at the brewery?
There were several reasons why I wanted to do my internship in Japan: on the one hand, I wanted to return to my roots and learn more about the culture, the language, the way of working and the mentality of the Japanese. On the other hand, I wanted to understand the differences and similarities between wine production and Japanese sake production.
Despite the long working hours and the physically demanding work, looking back the internship was one of the most wonderful and unforgettable experiences. Above all, I am grateful that there was the opportunity to do my internship in Japan. As I was the first official intern, all the staff treated me with respect and made me enjoy working.
My main task was to work in all departments of sake production – from the rice field to fermentation, analysis and bottling. After a few months, the workers let me work independently and make various decisions, which made me feel like a part of this company. Basically, the half year was a real experience in which I was often confronted with different challenges, but I also learned a lot about myself.
Why did you choose International Wine Business at IMC Krems?
I chose IMC Krems because here I could learn both aspects, business and winemaking, as well as take advantage of the mandatory internship. Furthermore, I was looking forward to studying with international students who share the same interests. The best thing about IMC is the diversity and openness of many students. I myself have become an open and articulate person over the past three years.
What are your plans for the future?
After I finish my bachelor degree at IMC Krems, I would like to continue at BOKU in Vienna and one year at Geisenheim University of Applied Sciences with a master’s degree in viticulture and oenology. Although my professional interest is mainly in the business sector, I would like to take a closer look at practical winemaking. Regarding my professional career, I hope to act as a “bridge” between Japan and Europe in this industry in the future.
Always approach things with a positive and open attitude, and above all a smile on your face! I didn’t think that Japan would be an option. However, with enough initiative and commitment, I am sure that you can do your desired internship.