BILBAO, Spain, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The fictional sailor Robinson Crusoe spent many years of his life stranded on a deserted island after his ship went down in a storm. His story has not only entertained millions of people throughout the years, but also helped to provide inspiration for a unique underwater winery in Spain.
The Crusoe Treasure Winery in Plentzia, around 20 km from Bilbao in northern Spain, produces wine aged under the sea. The idea came from reading stories of Robinson Crusoe, founder Borja Saracho has explained in an interview with Xinhua.
Saracho started with a diving company and when sales of diving equipment began to drop, Saracho and his colleagues tried to look for another activity.
They had read stories about bottles of wine recovered from shipwrecks that were still drinkable, and sold for high prices at auction. "We started a study to see what would happen if you deliberately stored wine underwater, so we looked for a place to start trials," he said.
For the trials, Saracho and his colleagues compared the results of aging wine under sea, with the effects of aging the same wine in barrels on land.
"We saw there was a very different chemical evolution to wine aged under the sea: the Ph and the acidity of the wine were very different and so was the pressure," explained Saracho.
"Everyone was really surprised as it looked like a different wine, and it also tasted really different," he added, explaining that immersion under the sea helps to give the wine a much rounder and softer flavor.
Crusoe Treasure Winery began producing wine aged under the sea in the bay of Plentzia in 2010, and the company now produces up to 20,000 bottles a year.
"The wine is stored in iron and concrete crates 20 meters below the surface of the sea. Every year the sea is different, but all of the bottles move together. The movement is perfect for the wine," Saracho said.
The grapes for the wine are grown in 10 different vineyards from all over Spain, and Crusoe Treasure Winery produces both red and white wines. The necks of the bottles are covered in wax, to protect them from the sea.
The winery also has a positive effect on local ecology.
"We hired a marine biologist, and the whole facility has been designed to produce an underwater reef," Saracho said.
Since 2010, the storage tanks have helped build up a reef that measures 500 square meters.
"There wasn't much marine life in the bay, but now we have thousands of fish around the reef, and we have even had whales and dolphins swimming close by," Saracho said. ■