A Tokyo-based firm is taking a unique approach to revitalizing the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. In an attempt to attract attention to the region, they sunk bottles of wine in an undersea cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in the Oshima Strait.
The practice of aging wine underwater is not new and has been done around the world for years. Submerged conditions offer a constant, cool temperature, higher pressure, and protection from excessive light, which are ideal for aging wine. Company president Yui Moritani explained that while this process is rare in Japan, there is potential for growth and interest.
On January 30, 2024, a total of 500 bottles of European wine were sunk at a depth of about 20 meters off the town of Setouchi on Amami-Oshima Island. Most of the bottles will remain at sea until June and will be served to customers in July. In addition, some bottles will be left to age longer so that the company can determine the optimal maturation period for the best tasting wine.
Moritani also hopes that the underwater wine cellar will serve as an artificial reef, attracting fish and marine life such as seaweed, which will absorb carbon dioxide and improve the environment. While there are challenges such as warmer water temperatures, Moritani remains positive about the potential for innovation and growth in this area. Despite these challenges, there is potential for the wine to age quickly which offers an advantage over traditional aging methods.