Sure, walking among grapevines, admiring stacked oak barrels, and touring wine-making facilities is cool, but how about a scuba-diving tour to a wine cellar that’s at least 45 feet under the sea?
Visitors to Edivo Vina, a winery in the village of Drace on Croatia’s Peljesac Peninsula, can do just that. The Navis Mysterium wine made from local grapes is aged on land in a cask first, then bottled in glass. Each glass bottle is placed inside a clay jug that’s corked, sealed with two layers of specially prepared wax, then left to rest in the Adriatic Sea, at a steady temperature of 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to two years.
The evocative clay jugs with pointed bottoms -- called amorphae -- are kept safe, locked in a cage to prevent theft, and stored in a shipwreck. So intrepid scuba divers are guided below the water’s surface to check out an old sunken fishing boat on an underwater tour, which also includes all rental equipment, an above-ground wine tasting, and a souvenir bottle of Navis Mysterium, which means “mystery of the sea.”
Modeled after the vessels that Ancient Greeks used to store their wine, each amorpha is different, as various sea creatures, algae, coral, and shells attach themselves to the clay jugs for an unusual effect.
As each is completely unique, the Croatian wine sold in amorphae isn’t cheap. According to the website, an amorpha of Navis Mysterium is $390; less expensive is the Navis Mysterium wine that’s been aged solely in a glass bottle under the sea for $89.
That said, the Edivo winery also produces above-ground-only wine for less than $20 a bottle. Visitors to Croatia can sample all the goods with a tasting at the Edivo Wine Bar in Drace. The wine bar is about an 80-minute drive northwest along the coast from Dubrovnik, a popular tourist destination on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast.
A few more interesting facts about Edivo wines:
- The winery focuses on Croatian products -- from the small blue grapes called Plavac Mali grown on the Dalmation coast to clay baked in Petrinja. The amorphae sit in stands made of wrought iron from Sisak, and pinewood gift boxes come from Varazdin.
- The 2013 Navis Mysterium Amorpha (clay jug aged under the sea) and the 2013 Navis Mysterium Sea Bottle (aged in a bottle under the sea without the protection of the clay jug) each won gold medals from the 2021 America Awards.
- Edivo Vina owners Ivo Segovic and Edi Bajurin experimented for several years before landing on a patented solution for aging wine underwater, first finding that traditional corks couldn’t withstand the pressure of the sea. Thus, they came up with a cork and a double dose of wax to prevent wine from leaking out and seawater from leaking into the amorphae.
- The winery’s red wine is stored between 14 and 20 meters below the sea. White wine is stored closer to 30 meters (98 feet!) underwater, as those grapes require colder temperatures.
- Navis Mysterium stored in an amorpha doesn’t see the light of day until it is opened for the first time on land.