In an effort to revive the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, a Tokyo-based company is taking an unconventional approach. They have submerged wine bottles in an underwater cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in the Oshima Strait, hoping that the unique aging process will draw attention and customers to the region.
The idea of aging wine underwater is not new, 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 some 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 the town of Setouchi in the south of 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 the environment. While there are challenges such as warmer water temperatures that could affect the aging process, Moritani remains optimistic about the potential for innovation and growth in Kagoshima Prefecture.
As part of their plan to promote their unique underwater aging service, Moritani recently opened a local restaurant serving wine in Setouchi. They plan to establish an underwater aging service for customers’ wine bottles from around Japan.
In conclusion, this innovative approach by Tokyo firm could bring new revenue streams and positive environmental impact to Kagoshima Prefecture through its unique way of promoting local products while providing an unforgettable dining experience with aged wines served from underwater cellars.