On December 12 and 13 we organized in Bilbao and Plentzia the 1st International Congress of Underwater Enology, Underwater Wine Congress 2019, with the aim of publicizing this innovative winemaking process together with marine sustainability. Underwater enology, or the body of knowledge related to the production of wines under the sea, breaks with the basic principles of traditional enology to create different wines chemically and organoleptically.
The Congress, presented by the journalist Eduardo Araujo, began with the introduction of Asier Alea, Head of Strategic Projects of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia and Jon Ruigómez, Director of Itsasmuseum. Following, the cartographer Stefan Coisi connected us deeply with the origins of underwater wine, through a journey of the history of shipwrecks and the first bottle sinking in the sea.
Our Director and Founder, Borja Saracho, said that “it is still possible to innovate in oenology; We have demonstrated this and much remains to be done”. Emmanuel Poirmeur, CEO of the French underwater winery Winereef Egiategia, shared that “they started at a time close to the beginning of Crusoe Treasure and that good ideas arise at the same time in different parts of the world. Coincidence?”. For his part, Pierluigi Lugano, Founder of the Italian underwater winery Spumante Abissi Portofino, explained that “they have tasted with winemakers’ friendsand experts in the sector and have been a success.”
Our Director of Oenology, Antonio Palacios, wanted to highlight the human factor of the project with an “integral team, where each one does his or her thing and where not only the greatness of marketing takes place, but where there are signs of guarantee“. He also said that “I have a team of very professional tasters. We organized a blind tasting and around 75% of the treasured wines were preferred over the terrestrial ones”. Anna Riera, Marine Biologist at Bodega Crusoe Treasure, explained that “the winery has become a multifunctional artificial reef that recovers marine life.”
Marilena Bonilla, Technical Director of Bodegas Protos said that “the special conditions that occur under the sea make the submerged wines over a period of time have differential characteristics, both on the nose and in the mouth, appreciating a more accelerated maturity and giving rise to very complex and peculiar wines”. In relation to the market and marketing of wine, the Director of Strategic Marketing and Innovation of TOB Strategy, Jorge Navarro, said that “brands have to think about what they offer the consumer as experience and for that they have to innovate”. Juan Park, Director of Wine Intelligence in Spain and South America, shared that “events like this help to position underwater enology as a guarantee seal for more wine consumers: adventurers and also those who value not being wrong.” The Winemaker of Grupo Bodegas Aragonesas S.A., Fernando Ballesteros, indicated that he has been able to verify that underwater development is “more than a story; that brings a different point of evolution, divergent from traditional processes, that really brings uniqueness and that is what it is about”. And Alejandro Ascaso, Winegrower and Cellarman of Bodega Edra, wanted to emphasize that “wine is from where it is born and where it is raised”.
From the institutions’s side, the Councilor for Tourism and Economic Promotion of the City of Plentzia, Iñaki Saenz de la Fuente, acknowledged that “Bodega Crusoe Treasure has made it possible for the region, Plentzia, to be integrated into a quality wine tourism circuit” . Irantzu Hijazo, from the Basque Tourism Agency, Basquetour, emphasized that “the Basque Country has treasures, such as this underwater winery, that enrich its offer of tourist products.”
The largest international underwater wine tasting to date also took place at Underwater Wine Congress 2019, with more than 10 different references.
We organized the Congress in collaboration with the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and with the support of the Plentzia City Council, Itsasmuseum, Excell Ibérica, Ercillla Hotels and TOB Strategy.