The Rise of Underwater Wine Cellars – Why is this Trend Happening?

In recent years, a small number of wine producers have started experimenting with making their wines in underwater cellars.

If you know a little about the wine production process, you’ll know that wines go into the cellars after harvesting. In these cellars, wines are aged, be it in barrels or bottles, and kept until they’re ready to be distributed to the public.

You could say that wine cellars are where the magic happens.

Every producer has a cellar, some having small rooms near their vineyards, while others have massive villas with casks of wine stretching as far as the eye can see. But while a wine cellar is almost always underground, there’s absolutely no water involved.

At least, that’s how it used to be.

After learning this fact, we had a simple question. Why?

We’re sure that’s the same question you’re asking, especially given that making wine underwater must surely be more time and labour-intensive than making it in a traditional cellar. With the question of why in mind, we decided to create an article examining the growing trend for underwater wine cellars.

Winemakers Become Curious About the Sea

During the First World War, the German U-Boat became one of the most feared vessels in the sea. Countless ships were sunk by these terrifying boats, leading to many shipwrecks lining the sea and ocean floors.

A few years ago, a team of divers decided to explore one of these shipwrecks.

Located about 60 metres below the water lay a Swedish schooner named Jönköping. In 1916, this schooner was sunk by a German U-Boat, as so many others were during the Great War. But this schooner was different. Rather than carrying military personnel, it carried a different type of precious cargo:

Thousands of bottles of the 1907 vintage of Heidsieck Champagne.

The divers knew that the ship lay under the cold waters of the Baltic Sea. And after a little exploration, they finally uncovered it, along with thousands of bottles of a Champagne that hadn’t been touched in over 80 years.

That expedition was in 1998.

Borja Saracho

This expedition inspired a Spanish wine lover and diver named Borja Saracho to conduct an experiment. Working with a team, he gained permission to rent 500 square metres of the seabed off Spain’s north coast. His goal was simple, sink some bottles of Spanish wine using a particular container to see what effects ageing under the water would have on the drinks. After all, thousands of bottles of Champagne had been retrieved in-tact after being underwater for over eight decades. Perhaps the water had a unique effect on the wine.

Several producers volunteered to add their wines to Saracho’s sunken collection. And the experiment was a resounding success, as Saracho explains:

“It was astounding. The wines’ evolution underwater was very distinct from what would happen with the same grape on land.”

Simply put, Saracho discovered that wine ages differently underwater than it does on land, taking on qualities that Saracho had never seen before. The discovery was such that it inspired Saracho to found a company called Crusoe Treasure, which has pioneered the concept of underwater wine cellars ever since.

He is far from the only one.

Today, producers in Croatia, Spain, Italy, and many other countries have experimented with underwater ageing wines. What started as an expedition to find some old lost wines sparked what some see as the next big revolution in the winemaking process.

What’s so Special About Ageing Wine Underwater?

Though we have mentioned Saracho discussing how ageing wines underwater imbued them with different qualities, it’s important to note that different doesn’t always mean better. If the wines tasted worse, that would be reason enough to avoid ageing them underwater.

But that isn’t the case.

The main reason for underwater ageing is that the conditions below the sea’s depths mimic those most ideal for ageing wine.

For example, there is a complete absence of sunlight on the sea bed. The sun can’t penetrate as deeply as underwater winemakers send their drinks, meaning there is no chance the sun can hamper the ageing process. This is one of the reasons why traditional winemakers use cellars. But even opening the door to a cellar can let sunlight in, whereas that situation is impossible when ageing wines are underwater.

underwater cellars

Coupled with the absence of light is the consistency in temperature. Water stays cool at deep depths, meaning the winemakers don’t have to worry about heat or temperature fluctuations affecting the ageing process. Combine all this with the argument that an underwater cellar can leave a unique imprint on a wine, and you have a compelling argument for ageing wine below the depths.

There’s just one problem, and it’s a big enough problem that it will likely prevent underwater cellars from becoming more widespread: the cost.

As a result, the logistics of submerging wine leads to the production process costing 70% more than it does in a typical wine cellar. The producer has to pay for special containers, boats, and divers, all of which add to production costs and reduce the product’s profitability. Even if the producer leans on the novelty of underwater ageing to raise its prices, the effort to make these wines is much higher than that required in traditional cellars.

The Final Word

We find this concept of underwater ageing fascinating. We would love the opportunity to test a well-known wine after it’s aged underwater to compare it to a traditionally-aged vintage.

Perhaps time will lower the production costs of underwater ageing, making it more accessible to producers without forcing price increases. But for now, underwater ageing stands as a curious innovation in an industry for which production processes haven’t altered in such a drastic way since the introduction of machinery.

Regardless, Xtrawine will always be here to provide quality wines. Though our collection doesn’t yet include any aged wines underwater, we have plenty of exceptional bottles for you to try.


Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

Questo sito utilizza i cookie per fornire la migliore esperienza di navigazione possibile. Continuando a utilizzare questo sito senza modificare le impostazioni dei cookie o cliccando su "Accetta" permetti il loro utilizzo.