Since 2013, Mira Winery has been working on an experimental ocean-aged wine called Aquaoir and on May 27 they pulled up eight cases of wine that had been sitting at the bottom of the Charleston Harbor for six months. The winery is in their final phase of the three-phase experiment but they might not get to see it to the end, in light of new federal regulations targeted at them.
Mira has partnered with Cause of Action (CoA) — a nonprofit, nonpartisan government accountability organization — which has counseled Mira Winery owner Jim Dyke to file requests based on the rights outlined in the Freedom of Information Act. Dan Epstein, President of CoA states, “Mira Winery has been the target of arbitrary government bullying aimed at chilling innovation and change.”
The FDA is concerned about the contents of the ocean that the wine is being submerged in, considering how many ships pass through the harbor on a daily basis. If “various types of filth” (according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau, March 17 ) are found in the wine, it will be considered adulterated and the ocean-aging experiment will be shut down. Dyke argues that if people are allowed to swim and dive in these waters, why can’t he put his sealed wine down there too?
Dyke isn’t the only confused about the government’s policy.
— Mira Winery (@MiraWinery) June 4, 2015
Even though the federal government has been trying to shut this experiment down since it started, the winery continues to drop cases of Napa Valley wine off the coast of Charleston, 60 feet down for six months. The government has stopped allowing tastings of this wine and Mira isn’t allowed to sell the product, following federal orders.
The idea for Aquaoir came from the many instances of divers searching for treasure on sunken ships and coming up with cases of wine, said to have an altered taste. This led led Mira Winery co-founders Gustavo Gonzalez, renowned winemaker, and Jim “Bear” Dyke Jr., entrepreneur, to ask, “Can the ocean help us create a better wine?” Trusting nature, they count on four factors that the Charleston Harbor can provide: cold temperatures, constant pressure, darkness, and the motion of ocean currents.
Check out each phase of the ocean-aging process here.