A Tokyo firm is taking a unique approach to boost the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. They have submerged wine bottles in an undersea cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in the Oshima Strait, hoping that the aging process will attract customers to the region.
The practice of aging wine underwater is becoming increasingly popular around the world. The submerged conditions provide a consistent, cool temperature, higher pressure, and protection from excessive light, which are ideal for wine maturation. Company president Yui Moritani explained that while this process is uncommon in Japan, there is potential for growth and interest.
On January 30th, 2024, 500 bottles of European wine were placed in stainless steel cages at a depth of about 20 meters off Setouchi on Amami-Oshima Island. Most of the bottles will remain in the sea until June before being served to customers in July. Additionally, some bottles will be left to age for a longer period to determine the optimal maturation period for the best tasting wine.
The company has recently opened a local restaurant serving wine in Setouchi and plans to establish an underwater aging service for wine bottles from customers in the future. Besides economic goals, Moritani hopes that the undersea wine cellar will serve as an artificial reef, attracting fish and sea life such as seaweed which absorbs carbon dioxide and improves the environment.
While there are challenges associated with submerging wine bottles underwater such as warmer water temperatures and maintaining proper conditions for aging, Moritani remains optimistic about the potential for innovation and growth in this area. Despite these challenges, Moritani noted that warmer waters could potentially lead to faster aging times providing an advantage over traditional methods.
In conclusion, this Tokyo firm’s innovative approach to reviving Kagoshima Prefecture’s economy through underwater winemaking is intriguing and has potential for growth and interest among consumers looking for unique dining experiences.