Wine cellar by the sea

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About a mile off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, an unusual search is underway – a search for wine treasure.

“We have to go get him,” said Emanuele Azzaretto. “So you always have a little knot until you find [it] and we know we can take him home. “

Azzaretto is both an experienced diver and, as a native of Italy, also an experienced wine drinker. “I married all the things I love and tried to make it work!” he said.

Azzaretto then disappeared into the water, and about 20 minutes later, a massive metal cage surfaced. Inside the cage: a bonus of nearly 1,500 bottles of red wine.

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A treasure from the bottom of the ocean.

CBS News


This find was no accident; Azzaretto knew what he was looking for, because he sunk it in the ocean a year ago. He is the co-founder of Ocean Fathoms, a company that is experimenting with using the ocean floor as a wine cellar.

The bottles come out dripping with sea water and covered with shells. “Every bottle, I mean, it’s a work of art,” he said.

“It looks like something you would find on a pirate ship,” correspondent Ben Tracy said.

After only a year in the murky depths, the bottles stuck to the ocean floor, attracting many curious (and perhaps thirsty) sea creatures. But Ocean Fathoms is more interested in the influence of the ocean on the inside from the bottle. He calls this section of the Santa Barbara Canal “nature’s perfect cellar” because there is little oxygen and little light; the temperature remains constant at 54 degrees; and the ocean currents gently rock the bottles.

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A cage containing hundreds of bottles of aged wine.

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Tracy asked, “So the movement of the ocean is really just rocking these things?”

“Absolutely,” Azzaretto said. “And then, we are in the Santa Barbara channel, there are all the whales here. So imagine what the bottles hear from here: the whales sing to them!

“So they’re cradled by the ocean and the lullabies of the whales? It’s a beautiful life like a bottle of wine,” Tracy said.

“Yes it is. For us too, when we drink it!”

“Better that you’re going to walk into someone’s closet.”

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Ocean Fathoms co-founder Emanuele Azzaretto shows correspondent Ben Tracy a bottle of wine collected from the bottom of the sea.

CBS News


Azzaretto was inspired by stories he read a few years ago on a treasure of champagne from a shipwreck found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The 168 bottles, some of which very vintage Veuve Clicquot, were still very drinkable after 170 years underwater.

The famous champagne house has since created its own “cellar in the sea” program, storing various bottles of bubbles 40 meters deep in a Baltic Sea wine cellar.

Rajat Parr was a sommelier for 18 years and now produces his own wine near the central California coast, where the cool ocean breeze provides the perfect conditions for making world-class wine – the perfect temperature for growing grapes. .

But when Ocean Fathoms approached Parr to ditch some of his best vintages in the Pacific, he was “intrigued and super curious”, but not convinced.

Tracy asked, “At first you thought this might be some kind of gimmick?”

“Oh, 100%,” Parr replied. “At first I thought it could be interesting, but I just don’t know. I wasn’t sure.”

He finally decided to sacrifice a few bottles, to see what happens. The result? “The spirit has been blown away! ” he said. “I realized it was definitely not a gimmick!”

Tracy asked, “What does the ocean do to wine? “

“Wine evolves in texture,” said Parr. “The tannins in the wine become softer tannins. The slightly rustic wines become rounder, but the nose is identical. It does not age in aromas. It only ages in texture.

Tracy asked, “And how long would it typically take you to get that kind of texture in a cellar? “

“I don’t know – more than five years?

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Bottles scalloped with shell ornaments.

Fathoms of the ocean


The bottles sell for a higher price, starting at around $ 350. But not everyone is a true believer. The California Coastal Commission is reviewing Ocean Fathoms’ license application and has expressed concerns about the impact of wine cages on marine life and fishing grounds.

Meanwhile, Azzaretto opened a bottle from his marine cellar, in which Tracy was able to taste: “Good! Yeah, it’s silky. Well, you found your treasure.”

“I did, eventually,” Azzaretto said. “And now we can take advantage of it! “


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Story produced by John Goodwin. Publisher: Ben McCormick.


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