All about climate change, brave pioneers and gaining ground PIWIs……
Quality wine from Denmark, award-winning sparkling wine from England…..
borders of wine-growing regions are moving visibly . North European winegrowers, 20 years ago treated with mild amusement, nowadays produce, to some extent, respectable quality which can stand international comparison as observed during the international organic wine award 2015. But Sweden? A Country which is known for its long, harsh winters and extremely short summers?
Without any doubt the climate change is obvious. According to Rossby Center for Climate Research the temperature rise in Sweden since the end of the 19th century is approximately two times higher than the global average. This leads to longer and stronger warm period in summer and on average 2 degrees warmer winter.
Today, there are around 40 companies that run commercial winegrowing in Sweden.
In 2006, they were only 4. The biggest growing area in Sweden, Horns Vingård, is located on the island Öland. The cooperative of winegrowers plants red and white grapevines on chalky soils supported by Spanish experts. The oldest vineyard, Blaxsta Vingård, was founded 15 years ago and is located close to Stockhom.
Most planted vines are PIWIs Phoenix, Solaris, Rondo and Regent. They are appreciated in cooler winegrowing areas due to their resistance to fungal desease and genuine and false mildew. Also of interest is the fact that they enable farming in a nature-friendly way because they make pesticides superfluous.
One of the pioneers of Swedish winegrowing is Lauri Pappinen from vineyard Gute Vingard – a graduate electronic engineer harvesting first grapes in 2002 on the Swedish island Gotland and nowadays producing up to 6000 liters wine each year.
His dessert wine 2011 Gute Ädel Solaris has attracted a lot of attention during the PIWI wine award 2014 because it was the only one within this category that became Top Gold with 96 PAR points.
Q: Mr. Pappinen, you are one of the pioneers within the growing Swedish winemaker scene. What inspired you to establish an own winery? Was it a dream, you always had or did it rather start as an experiment?
A: I used to visit isle Gotland already in 1985 -1986 , later on I bought some vacation property . One summer I got a dream. Woke up in the morning and still could remember my dream. I have seen myself in the vineyard on this nice island, next to the water, sunshine….and I decided to test what is possible. 2000 first plants came. We continued in 2001. Part of those plants are still existing on approximately 3,5 ha of the cultivation area nowadays. I made my dream to reality.
Q: Commercial winemaking in Sweden is very young and surely you had quite a few obstacles to clear at the beginning. Did you have mentors from “traditional” wine producing countries or did you establish your very own way to deal with the everyday challenges a winemaker has to face – especially within Gotland’s very special climate?
A: My interest for wine started in the 90’s. During this time I worked in publishing business. I used to travel in the US and Europe and visited roughly 200 wineries each year. I also met people from the industry. One of my mentors came from the UK. Later when I started to buy equipment for my vineyard I had a very good relationship with Clemens Technologies from Germany. They supported me in gathering experience a lot. Though I am an engineer my approach is only partly technical. Another part of my work is art. I like to think out of the box. Creative process….that is what I like.
Q: Your main grape varieties are Solaris, Rondo and Phoenix; your 2011 Gute Ädel Solaris won a Top Gold Medal on the international PIWI wine award 2014. How important are the fungus-resistant vines for you?
A: Fungus resistant grape varieties are easily adopted by us. They are definitely the best for Sweden and I also like to work organically.
Q: Last but not least: The alcohol monopoly in Sweden is a much discussed topic. To which extent do you think it decelerates the evolution of a strong winemaker scene in Sweden? Does it have a massive impact or do you think the industry will grow stronger nonetheless?
A: I have been involved in this subject from the very beginning. Monopoly is very strong and makes life hard for wineries. This is the last monopoly and I think that this situation will change (like the pharmacy monopoly ). This is just a question of time. Apart from wine business many small breweries develop quite fast and for sure this makes pressure on the monopoly situation in Sweden.