A Tokyo firm is hoping that the aging of wine at an undersea cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, will help rejuvenate the local economy. This process is widely practiced around the world, as submerged conditions — consistent and relatively cool temperatures, higher pressure, and the absence of excessive light — are suitable for wine to gracefully mature. However, it is a “rarely practiced 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 the town of 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 the project will also have a positive impact on the environment, with the underwater wine cellar attracting 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.