Sakurai’s appreciation for nature and the way he goes about making his sake was formed during the 10 years he spent working in the sake industry in Japan, learning the craft in breweries. Across the country. At one of those breweries in the mid-sized town of Akita, he met his wife, Heather, who was on a sake tour that he was running. They fell in love and later got married in Niigata.
After years of working for others, Sakurai saved enough money to start his own sake brewery. But opening a sake brewery in Japan involves a complicated licensing process. In Arizona, where Heather had attended high school in Holbrook, the process wasn’t as difficult.
In 2014, the couple and their three children left Japan and moved to Holbrook, about 140 miles from Heather’s family, to give rural Arizona a chance.
In turn, the community of Holbrook offered a chance to Sakurai, his family and Arizona Sake.
Heather Sakurai remembers how nervous her husband was when he was about to present his proposal to Holbrook City Council just before Christmas 2015. He wanted to start the brewery out of his garage, which required a conditional license. from the city.
Being new to the community, Sakurai was far from certain that the city would accept the permit. It took a few years, but in 2017 he started making sake in his garage. The following year, he opened a 1,000 square foot brewery just minutes from his home up the hill and near the highway.