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Utilizing Undersea Wine Aging to Stimulate Economy of the Southwestern Japan Island

A Tokyo-based company is taking a unique approach to boost the local economy in Kagoshima Prefecture, located in southwestern Japan. The company has submerged wine bottles in an underwater cellar off Amami-Oshima Island in the Oshima Strait, with the hope of attracting attention and customers to the region through the aging process.

The underwater aging of wine is a well-established practice worldwide. The submerged conditions offer ideal temperatures, higher pressure, and protection from sunlight, making it 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, a total of 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 before being served to customers in July. Additionally, some bottles will be left to age for a longer period to determine the optimal maturation time 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 that attracts fish and sea life such as seaweed which can absorb carbon dioxide and improve the environment.

While there are challenges such as warmer water temperatures that may affect the aging process, Moritani remains optimistic about the potential for innovation and growth in the area. Despite warmer temperatures offering rapid aging opportunities, Moritani noted that ensuring that the wine can withstand warm waters through summer would be challenging. Nonetheless, he believes that this unique approach has tremendous potential for success and could set a new standard for sustainable tourism development in Japan’s southwestern region.

By Editor

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