A Tokyo-based company is taking a novel approach to revitalizing the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. They are submerging wine bottles in an underwater cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in the Oshima Strait, hoping that the aging process will draw attention and customers to the region.
The concept of underwater wine aging is not new worldwide, but it is rare in Japan. However, Yui Moritani, president of the firm, believes that there is potential for growth and interest. The submerged conditions offer a consistent cool temperature, higher pressure, and protection from excessive light, which are ideal for wine maturation.
On January 30th, 2024, 500 bottles of European wine were placed in stainless steel cages at a depth of about 20 meters off Setouchi in Amami-Oshima Island’s south. 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.
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. Besides economic goals, Moritani hopes that the undersea wine cellar will serve as an artificial reef attracting fish and sea life such as seaweed that absorbs carbon dioxide and improves water quality.
While there are challenges such as warmer water temperatures, Moritani remains optimistic about innovation and growth opportunities in Kagoshima Prefecture’s economy. Despite warmer temperatures there is potential for rapid aging of wine offering an advantage over traditional methods. Moritani noted that ensuring that the wine can withstand warm waters during summer is their biggest challenge but they remain determined to make it work.
In conclusion, this Tokyo based firm is taking an innovative approach towards reviving Kagoshima Prefecture’s local economy by submerging European wines into an undersea cellar off Amami-Oshima Island. While this method faces challenges such as warmer water temperatures it has potential for innovation and growth opportunities for both economic gains and environmental improvement.