More people grow wine grapes in Norway today than a few years ago, but the industry is still only in its infancy. Could climate change turn Norway into a wine country?
Climate is the biggest obstacle to grape and wine production in Norway. The Norwegian climate with long winters means that only special grape varieties suitable for cold can grow here.
Today, only hybrid species of grape plants are adapted to our climate. These grapes can withstand temperatures up to minus 16 degrees Celsius.
The more popular grape varieties such as Riesling and Pinot Noir do not do well in the Norwegian climate. Some attempts have been made, with some mature results, but not enough, says Stephen Rees Christiansen, Vinmonopolet’s product manager, to the Nynorsk press office.
Knowing the Norwegian side is useful
Today there are about 40 vineyards in Norway, according to figures from the Association of Wine and Spirit Suppliers. Many of these are run on a hobby basis.
– There is no doubt that wine production in Norway is still only in the initial stage. There are many people interested in growing grapes and making wine, but due to the Norwegian climate, there is no tradition of grape-growing in this country, said the association’s general secretary, Engon Gordheim, at the press office in Nynorsk.
She says Norway nonetheless has a good foundation for wine growing. Before, farmers in Sogn, Hardanger and Telemark had great success growing apples and berries that turned into cider, fruit wine and berries.
These growers have a lot of knowledge about both the cultivation and the technical aspects, making it easier for them to manage the transition to grape growing if they wish, says Gordheim of the Association of Wine and Spirit Suppliers.
Climate change can make a positive contribution
There is one positive consequence of negative climate changes: the temperature may become warmer and more favorable for the production of grapes and wine in Norway. Riis Christianen at Vinmonopolet believes that Norway has good chances of becoming a wine country in the future.
– Food for short distances in the air, and we already have good sales of Swedish and Danish wines. At the same time, starting a wine producer in Norway requires a lot of equity capital. Thus, those trying should take it seriously if they want to succeed, he says.
In his job as product manager at Vinmonopolet, Riis Christianen was responsible for wines from Northern Europe, including Norwegian wines. He says that if Vinmonopolet has to buy wine from a new producer, there should be at least 390 bottles to buy. This means that there is only one wine from a Norwegian producer that can be found on Vinmonopolet shelves today.
Growing grapes also takes a long time. The vine is at its best when it is between 30 and 40 years old.
So, maybe in just a few years we’ll see a big increase in Norwegian wines on the shelves at the Pole, says Reiss Christiansen.
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