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Scandinavia’s Wine Scene Is Growing, Partially Due to Climate Change

Scandinavia's Wine Scene Is Growing, Partially Due to Climate Change

Rising temperatures and resilient grapes have enabled Denmark and Sweden to produce unique wines.

Outside the tasting room at Skærsøgaard Vin in southern Denmark, chemist-turned-winemaker Sven Moesgaard points to the rocky cliffs above. They were formed millions of years ago, when Denmark was considered an arctic nation. “This area was [here] in the ice ages,” he says. “The ice used to melt into the fjords and now we are making Champagne [in the very same place].”

It’s been 20 years since Moesgaard produced his first bottle of wine. Initially, he had no idea his wine production was illegal due to European Union regulations requiring countries to be certified as wine-making nations. Moesgaard eventually won permission for Denmark to produce wine in 2000, making Skærsøgaard the country’s first commercial vineyard. “To make wine here was not only something you should have laughed at, but it was also forbidden,” Moesgaard says. His wines have since won awards from around the world, in competitions as far-flung as California.

In the last 10 years alone, the number of vineyards in Denmark has more than doubled to over 100. The trend is picking up across Scandinavian borders, too: Sweden has grown to 40 vineyards and in Norway, albeit the smallest industry of the three, there are nearly a dozen. Milder winters and summers that now stretch into September along with grapes resilient to cold have helped vineyards in the region come of age, with a changing climate on their side.

Climate experts predict in 50 years, Scandinavia’s wine-growing conditions will be more like northern France. But some weather patterns already mimic that of Champagne with cool, temperate climes, occasional spring frosts, significant rain, and warmer summers.