A Tokyo firm is taking an innovative approach to reviving 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 the aging process will draw attention and customers to the region.
The underwater aging of wine is a well-known practice around the world. The submerged conditions offer 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 rare in Japan, there is potential for growth and interest.
In January 2024, the company placed 500 bottles of European wine in stainless steel cages at a depth of about 20 meters off the town of Setouchi on Amami-Oshima Island. Most of the bottles will remain in the sea until June, to be served to customers in July. Additionally, some bottles will be left to age for a longer period so that the company can determine the optimal maturation period for the best tasting wine.
Besides economic goals, Moritani also hopes that the undersea wine cellar will serve as an artificial reef, attracting fish and sea life such as seaweed which will absorb carbon dioxide and improve water quality. Despite facing challenges such as warmer water temperatures during summer months, Moritani remains optimistic about potential for innovation and growth in this area.
The company 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.