The Van Trump Report

Your Next Bottle of Wine May Come From the Arctic Thanks to This Young Couple

Once seen as experimental land at the fringe of what’s possible, the commercial wine industry in regions just below the Arctic Circle is starting to take advantage of the warmer summers. In the last decade, the region has become an emerging wine destination, a development spurred by hotter summers and the introduction of disease-resistant hybrid grape varieties that can resist the frigid winters.

Emma Serner and Andrea Guerra met in Tuscany, Italy where the couple began to share their dream of starting their own vineyard, but were hesitant to start in southern Europe due to the effects of climate changes in the area that have been devasting production in recent years. Due to the continuous heat waves, drought, and smoke from wildfires, not only have yields been significantly stunted but it’s also become increasingly difficult to produce the same legacy wines that producers have consistently been churning out for centuries.

After weighing all the pros and cons, Serner suggested heading up to her home country of Sweden and setting up a vineyard on the island of Gotland, a southern province with warm, mild summers where her grandmother owned a summerhouse. The couple took a leap of faith and made the move. The couple is now the co-founders of Långmyre Vineri, a 10-acre vineyard with a collection of 26,000 vines. They are part of a small yet growing cohort of Swedish winemakers whose collective land area spans between 370 to 500 acres. 

For nearly two decades researchers and horticulturists in Sweden have been working to harvest grapes. In the early years of trials it wasn’t a guarantee that you would even have any crop. But wine-makers in the country started hitting their stride around 2010 when cold-hardy hybrid grapes like Solaris were introduced via Germany. One reason they are gaining so much favor in Sweden is the fact they are also environmentally friendly, meaning, the hybrid grapes are disease-resistant cultivars and don’t require much of any pesticides or fungicides. 

Keep in mind, the increased levels and duration of hot temperatures in traditional growing regions have started to alter the chemistry of wine as hotter temps make grapes produce more sugar, which is then converted to alcohol. Worldwide there’s been a move from roughly 12% alcohol, maybe 100 years ago as an average, to about 14% today. That’s not a problem for a producer going for a full-bodied dry red wine, but in places like Champagne, growers have had to adapt drastically in order to retain brightness in their sparkling wines. One of the distinguishing features of cool climate wine is its relatively low alcohol content – an envious and harder-to-achieve trait for producers located down south.

Serner notes, that this is why they moved production to Sweden because, in southern Europe, growers are extremely fixated on making the same wine from the same varieties, even though the recipe that was written 200 years ago was made when the world looked much different. Keep in mind, in old wine countries like Italy and France, there are strict appellation rules dictating what type of grapes can be grown and where. But the problem is that with the changing climate and resistance some of these legacy grapes no longer thrive as well as they did before.

I don’t expect to see the Swedish wine industry taking over the world anytime soon, but I think there are lessons we can take away. Regardless of our views on changing weather patterns, we can all agree that the effects of weather are changing our growing regions and crops that can best be grown. Just look at how the corn and bean acres have been moving farther north. Bottom line, our environment is changing whether it be from a climate, regulatory, or breeding perspective, etc., opportunities exist for those who are willing to step out and take a risk on doing something different. This young couple traveled to a different country to exploit an opportunity. I am sure there are many new farming opportunities coming our way here in the US, we just have to be open and willing to see things from a new and different perspective… which certainly isn’t easy! (Source:,

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