An innovative Tokyo-based firm is taking a unique approach to revive the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, located in 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 draw attention and customers to the region.
The practice of aging wine underwater is not common in Japan, but it has been gaining popularity worldwide due to its ideal conditions for wine maturation. The submerged conditions offer a consistent cool temperature, higher pressure, and protection from excessive light. Company president Yui Moritani explained that while this process may be rare in Japan, there is potential for growth and interest.
On January 30th, 2024, a total of 500 bottles of European wine were placed in stainless steel cages at a depth of about 20 meters off Setouchi Town on Amami-Oshima Island. Most of the bottles will remain in the sea until June before being served to customers in July. Some bottles will also be left to age for an extended period to determine the optimal maturation time for the best tasting wine.
In addition to its economic goals, Moritani 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 the environment. While there are challenges such as warmer water temperatures that could affect wine aging, Moritani remains optimistic about the potential for innovation and growth in the area.
To capitalize on this newfound interest in underwater wine aging, the company recently opened a local restaurant serving wine in Setouchi and plans to establish an underwater aging service for customers’ wine bottles in the future. This unique approach has already attracted attention from tourists eager to taste wines aged beneath the waves.
Moritani explained that while traditional winemaking techniques are still important, innovation can bring new opportunities for growth and expansion. By exploring new methods such as underwater aging, companies like this Tokyo-based firm can push boundaries and create exciting new experiences for consumers.
Overall, this innovative approach could lead to significant economic benefits for Kagoshima Prefecture while also promoting sustainable practices that benefit both people and marine life alike.