Climate change has led to milder winters and hotter summers in the north of Europe and while that might have skiers shedding a few tears, for Swedish winemakers it’s been a boon, particularly in the south where the soil is fertile, and there has been a quiet wine making revolution going on for more than a decade.
Winemakers in Skåne estimate they have at least an extra month of the growing season these days, with growers harvesting five or six weeks earlier than they had 15 years ago. And despite a couple of cold snaps that put harvests at risk, the region’s grape growers are committed, despite the fact that Swedes themselves are only just waking up to the fact that there are some tasty tipples available from their own backyard.
More than a dozen Swedish wines are carried in the state-run alcohol monopoly Systembolaget and that number is growing, as are vineyard tours and businesses developed around wine making.
What makes Swedish wine unique is the high acidity, and many are still looking for that perfect grape that suits a climate where the growing season is short, thus producing fruit with a high acidity. Swedish growers say this is a benefit and much coveted by their southern European counterparts, although some critics remain skeptical.
What is clear is that while Swedish growers still need to deal with an unpredictable climate that can throw in late snow, mid-summer cold snaps, and early winters, that is changing and the warmer it gets the more likely we’ll see a Swedish wine able to compete with the best of them – and that cold can be used to advantage, as it produces a unique flavour not found anywhere else in the world.