A Tokyo firm is working on a unique project that hopes to rejuvenate the local economy of Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. By aging wine in an undersea cellar off Amami-Oshima Island, the company believes it can create a new source of income for the region.
The process of aging wine underwater is widely practiced around the world, as submerged conditions provide ideal conditions for wine to mature gracefully. However, this practice is rare in Japan, according to Yui Moritani, president of a public relations firm in Tokyo that started the project. In late January, around 500 bottles of European wine were submerged in the Oshima Strait off Setouchi, Kagoshima Prefecture, at a depth of about 20 meters. The company also opened a restaurant serving wine in the town in November with plans for the submerged bottles to be served to customers in July.
Some bottles will be aged longer to determine the right maturation period for optimal taste. Additionally, the company plans to offer underwater aging services for wine bottles entrusted by customers in the future. Moritani hopes that this project will not only boost the local economy but also have a positive impact on the environment. The underwater wine cellar attracts fish and seaweed while absorbing carbon dioxide.
However, a diver who helped sink the wine bottles noted that the water temperature is warmer than typical aging conditions, which can cause wine to age more rapidly but may pose a challenge during the warmer summer months. Despite this challenge, Moritani remains optimistic about the potential benefits of this unique project.