Wine…Under The Sea?

The seemingly never-ending innovation is what we love about the wine industry. It’s an industry that leans as heavily on tradition as it does on trying something new. For example, aging or storing wine in a stainless steel wine drum wasn’t an option available to winemakers of yore, that doesn’t make it any less of an invaluable option to winemakers today. So, here we are celebrating a new approach to winemaking: aging wine underwater.

Yup, you read that right. A winery in Miyagi Japan is aging its wine in the ocean. The Minami-Sanriku Winery uses an oyster farming facility to keep its product underwater and at a constant temperature. The result is an aging process more than 3x shorter than in a wine cellar. The consistent temperature isn’t the only reason behind this reduced aging time, the wine is also helped by the sounds of the ocean. Constant sound in the ocean creates vibrations in the water. The result for the wine? A nice, mild flavor in just six months of aging.

The Minami-Sanriku Wine Project started in 2017 as part of efforts to create new industries for reconstruction after the town was devastated by a tsunami following Japan’s catastrophic 2011 earthquake. They planted a vineyard on the slopes of the town, where the temperature fluctuates greatly throughout the day. Conditions that are great for cultivating grapes, but not necessarily for aging them.

According to an article in Star Advertiser, “[The Winery President’s] idea for under-the-sea wine-aging was inspired by wine found in sunken ships.” They explored and learned the craft further from another winery that had been experimenting with under-water aging for some time.

In a full-circle moment, the winery uses crushed oyster shells in its soil and now partners with local oyster fishermen to submerge wine bottles about 32 feet in an oyster farm. The first two batches have already been retrieved and the verdict is: it works.