Wagyu refers to all Japanese beef cattle. They were first imported into the United States in 1975. The unique taste, intense flavor and tenderness of Wagyu beef has found its way into fine dining venues all across the globe. It has exploded in popularity in the best restaurants across the United States.
Wagyu beef initially became famous all over the world by the name ‘Kobe Beef,’ which is Wagyu beef raised in the area around Kobe, Japan. The Japanese government regulates Wagyu cattle, and accordingly, only cattle produced in the Kobe region can be called ‘Kobe Beef.’ In this respect it is much like another palette pleaser, Champagne. Mistakenly, and sometimes misleadingly, Wagyu produced in the U.S. is sometimes referred to as “Kobe Beef” or “American Kobe”. These terms are incorrect, misleading and offensive to the peoples of Kobe, Japan. It would be the same if California sparkling wines were labeled incorrectly as Champagne. The good news for the American consumer is that our American Wagyu is getting closer and closer in quality to the Japanese product…much the same as our California wines are edging closer and closer in quality to their French counterparts. In the end, the consumer is the winner as we all try to provide more of this superior beef product.
The Wagyu breed is bound by genetics, so Wagyu can be born and raised anywhere – as long as the Wagyu parentage can be DNA verified. Thus, American produced Wagyu can bear the name ‘Fullblood Wagyu’ or ‘100% Wagyu,’ as long as it is from a DNA verified Wagyu genetic line. All of the animals here at Cloverdale Wagyu are both registered as 100% full blood and DNA tested back to the original Japanese bloodlines.
Wagyu were originally draft animals used in land cultivation, so they were selected for physical endurance. This selection favored animals with more intra-muscular fat cells or marbling, which provided a readily available energy source. For centuries, the Japanese philosophy has been to grow cattle slowly and naturally, unlike the American system of growing commercial breeds rapidly, with emphasis on final weight, and getting them swiftly to market. As mentioned earlier, the animals at Cloverdale are never offered for harvest before a slow and steady weight gain over a minimum of 30 months. Anything short of this time frame does an injustice to the marbling traits that can be fully realized at that time. Japanese produced Wagyu cattle are so cherished that they have been declared a National Treasure and are protected as such. Here at Cloverdale we consider them treasures also and treat them accordingly.
Most of the American raised Wagyu are percentage Wagyu and this is what is offered in many restaurants. As customers we should always ask what percentage Wagyu is being offered. 50% Wagyu is very good but 100% Wagyu is exquisite. The American herd size of ‘Fullblood Wagyu’ or ‘100% Wagyu’ is quite small compared to the Japanese or Australian herds.
Purebred Wagyu is a term used for cattle that are 15/16ths Wagyu.
Percentage Wagyu is a term used for F1’s, F2’s and F3’s (50% Wagyu, 75% Wagyu and 87% Wagyu).
We at Cloverdale Wagyu do not raise purebred or percentage Wagyu. All our stock is 100% full blood, registered with the American Wagyu Association and, most importantly, DNA verified as descendants of the original Japanese bloodlines.