A Tokyo-based firm is taking a novel approach to revive the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, located in southwestern Japan. The company has submerged wine bottles into an undersea cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in the Oshima Strait, hoping that the aging process will attract customers to the region.
Underwater aging of wine is a well-known practice worldwide. 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 is rare in Japan, there is potential for growth and interest.
On January 30th, 2024, 500 bottles of European wine were placed in stainless steel cages at a depth of about 20 meters off the town of 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 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 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 environment.
Despite some challenges such as warmer water temperatures and difficulty monitoring and maintaining them underwater , Moritani remains optimistic about potential growth and innovation in this area. She believes that this project can create new opportunities for businesses around Kagoshima Prefecture and bring more tourists into the region.
Overall , this unique approach by Tokyo firm offers exciting prospects not only for Kagoshima Prefecture’s economy but also for Japan’s winemaking industry .