At the bottom of the sea: the underwater wineries around the world
Do you hear its call? Golden beaches and crystal clear water, summer days and hammocks hanging among the maritime pines, aperitifs on the lounge chairs watching the sunset with a good glass of wine. When we think about the call of the sea, we imagine a blue expanse with a thousand reflections that is lost to the horizon. Have you ever thought…what is underneath it all? Down, down on the seabed, among the currents, rocks and hidden ecosystems are some of the most unexpected treasures that are concealed from our view. All over the world there are actual underwater wineries… at the bottom of the sea.
THE ORIGINS OF UNDERWATER WINERIES
How did the story of underwater wineries and bottles of wine aged at the bottom of the sea begin? It is ten years later from an experimentation, that this practice is becoming a real trend, not only in the Mediterranean area but also in other parts of the world. It seems that the first one was the visionary Pietro Lugano, owner of the Bisson winery, who lowered the first batch of classic method spumante into the seabed off the coast of Portofino, in the Liguria region. Then, in 2010 the discovery of a ship that sank in 1880 off the Aland Archipelago in the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland, ignited the incredible development of these wineries inspiring several producers to jump in, this also included the French wine producers. The divers, in fact, resurfaced 168 bottles of Champagne, many of them signed Veuve Clicquot – a precious cargo destined perhaps to the court of the tzars. After a series of research projects, in 2014 the endeavor “The Cellar in the Sea” was born. For 40 years this would be a source of important discoveries and experiences to get the best out of the art of underwater wineries.
THE ADVANTAGES OF WINE AGED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA
This, however, did not just end up being a trend. There are actually some advantages that explain why it is a significant to think about aging wine below sea level. The deeper you go, the more ideal the conditions are for this concept, such as constant temperature, semi-darkness, immobility and pressure provided by the currents. Wine experts say: storing bottles on the seabed provides the optimal conditions for the aging process, while generating additional ideas with interesting and incredible results. There is still a lot of research to be done even on a technical level (for example, Bisson has created and patented a special stopper with a steel coating, resistant to the aggressiveness of salt erosion), although in some ways, seeing these bottles encrusted with algae and coral, with a fascinating patina that evokes a mysterious storied history, makes you think more about the magic rather than the science behind it all. This is what joins the mystical mysterious fascination of tasting a bottle of wine, while lounging in your hammock, that comes from the bottom of the unknown sea.
UNDERWATER WINERIES, WHERE ARE THEY?
Even the aspect of territorial appreciation should not be underestimated. Are you an enthusiast of wine, innovation and marine sustainability? If you would like to plan an adventure on the path of underwater wineries (certainly an experience reserved for just a few), know that you can find them in Italy, France, Spain, Greece, United States, Chile, South Africa and Australia. In 2019, the first Underwater Wine Congress has 31 underwater wineries around the world. The Mediterranean is a cradle for these innovators. In Sardinia (Alghero), in Liguria (Portofino and Sestri Levante), on the Adriatic, in Ravenna and Croatia, are just some of the many places of these specialized wineries. For example, Coral Wine immerses its wines to a depth of between 25 and 45 meters in Adriatic Sea. In Santorini, a gorgeous Greek island, Gaia Wines submerges the bottles to a depth of 25 meters for at least 5 years. In Spain, Vina Maris seals its wine, both white and red, 30 meters off Alicante on the Mediterranean coast, while the French Château Larrivet Haut-Brion lets some of its fine Bordeaux in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The search for unique experiences pushes us to try new things. We want to share these moments – like enjoying a good glass of wine from an underwater winery. All that remains to do is to create the right setting to make such a moment even more special. Imagine yourself with friends in the garden or on the terrace at sunset on a late summer day, with some pleasant background music, in the comfortable privacy of a pergola adorned with vine shoots, ready to bear fruit. Cheers!