A Tokyo-based company is taking a unique approach to boosting the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, located in southwestern Japan. By submerging wine bottles in an underwater cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in the Oshima Strait, the firm hopes to attract attention and customers to the region through the aging process.
The concept of underwater wine aging is not new worldwide, but it is rare in Japan. 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 may be unfamiliar to many Japanese consumers, there is potential for growth and interest.
On January 30th, 2024, 500 bottles of European wine were submerged at a depth of about 20 meters off 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 to 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 the environment. While there are challenges associated with warmer water temperatures and maintaining communication with customers who can’t see their wine aging underwater, Moritani remains optimistic about the potential for innovation and growth in the 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. This unique approach could help revitalize Kagoshima Prefecture’s economy while also promoting environmental sustainability through artificial reefs that support marine life.