Diving to the winery under the sea
The world’s first underwater winery nestles within a shipwreck beneath the Adriatic.
If you love wine and diving, you will probably take the first flight out to Croatia if not for the lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions. But it’s not too late when travel opens up to head for a spirited adventure unlike any other.
Hidden within the town of Drace on the Peljesac peninsula, which is one hour away from 2,000-year-old Dubrovnik, is Croatia’s first underwater winery. Peljesac is well known for its fine vineyards and many excellent varieties of wine.
Edivo Vina winery was created beneath the sea where visitors can join divers on a tour of the submerged jugs. There is, of course, a winery on the ground for those who don’t fancy a spot of scuba.
The underwater cellars showcase Navis Mysterium, or “sea mystery” wine stored in bottles housed in a sunken fishing boat that had been lying at the bottom of the Mali Ston Bay for more than 30 years.
Nearly 5,000 bottles of wine are aged above-ground for three months and then stored below the water in special made amphorae, clay jugs based on vessels used in Ancient Greece. The jugs have a narrow neck and two handles, and the interior is coated with a thin layer of resin.
All of the bottles are corked, and two layers of rubber are added to prevent saltwater from leaking in, and wine from leaking out.
The amphorae are then placed inside padlocked cages to discourage stealing. They are then lowered into the Adriatic Sea to a depth of 20 metres, where they stay for up to two years.
Natural sea cooling made ideal conditions for the wine storage. The process gives the wine a ‘pinewood aroma’, according to its makers.
Every fortnight, in between taking tourists down to the underwater cellars, divers examine each submerged amphora to make sure no seawater has penetrated into the wine.
Upon surfacing after the underwater tour, guests can enjoy a fresh seafood meal to complement their wine.
The first amphorae went underwater in 2013, but it was a three-year process to research the project.
The winery tested several locations around the peninsula at first and the spot it has now is ideal because the temperature of the sea stays at 15 degrees Celsius all year round – a stable temperature that is key to making wine.
Every amphora is a handmade product, as it has to pass a 14-day procedure of handling and cleaning once it’s taken out from the water.
When the amphorae emerge, they are covered in shells, barnacles and other sea life, giving them a buried treasure look, which may explain their £270 price tag.
Corals, seashells and algae become part of the packaging design. Therefore, every amphora or every bottle becomes a unique sculptural masterpiece – a perfect souvenir with the signature of the Adriatic Sea.
Edivo Winery is the first winery in the world to have a licence for aging wine under the sea. It’s also the only one with a patent to sell wine in amphora.
However, Edivo Winery is not the only place in the world to submerge its wine. Several countries, including Greece, Italy, France and Spain, have followed the practice of submerging bottles of wine for various periods of time.
But you can only see the wine underwater in Croatia.
Images: Edivo Vina