About Us

The Story of Zenkuro Sake

One night in late 2014 would-be-founders Dave, Yoshi, Craig and Richard sat down in front of a rugby game with a bottle of sake in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. They had drunk most of it when Dave piped up, “Why don’t we start New Zealand’s first sake brewery?” 

The Zenkuro team have spent most of their lives with some connection to the land where sake comes from, Japan. They have a passion to share their appreciation of not only Japan, but also the place that they call home, Queenstown, New Zealand. Our sake is an expression of the surroundings and the water sourced from the pristine mountains and lakes around our home. 

Dave & Richard also run Tanken Tours Ltd and Wilderness Adventures Ltd in Queenstown, catering to Japanese visitors – see www.nzwilderness.co.nz 

The Team Behind Zenkuro Sake

David Joll

Dave first travelled to Japan as a 17-year old exchange student, many moons ago. He majored in Japanese at Auckland University then did post-graduate studies on Japanese culture at Shizuoka University and Hitotsubashi University in Japan. He is also a black belt in Judo. After years of research drinking sake, he is now our master of the brewing process and Zenkuro team leader.

Yasuko Joll

Since first coming to NZ in 1997 from Fukuoka, Japan, as a licensed travel agent, Yasuko has lived in Queenstown working in the tourism industry as an inbound travel agent, at Millbrook Resort, and as a local tour guide, before becoming one of the founding members of Zenkuro Sake in 2015.

Yasuko is now a Certified Sake Professional, providing Zenkuro with its organizational framework, coordinating the schedules of the brewing team and ensuring all the necessary ingredients and supplies are always available.

Richard Ryall

Richard graduated with honours from Leeds University, England and after years of travelling the world, including living in Tokyo, he settled in Queenstown. An outdoor enthusiast, he is the writer and publisher of New Zealand flora and fauna books in Japanese and specialises in Japanese media visits for Tanken Tours Ltd.

Yoshi Kawamura

Yoshi is one of Japan’s foremost ‘sake missionaries’. Passionate about the history and culture of sake in Japan, he actively promotes the spread of all that’s good about sake throughout the world. A graduate of Gakushuin University, Yoshi was also co-owner of YK3 Sake in Vancouver, Canada, and is an enthusiastic member of the Japan New Zealand Business Council.