business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times has a story about how in Scandinavia, "a decade ago, winemaking was regarded as a losing proposition in these notoriously cool climes. But as global temperatures rise, a fledgling wine industry is growing from once-unlikely fields across Scandinavia, as entrepreneurs seek to turn a warming climate to their advantage … Nordic vintners are betting that they can develop what were once mainly hobbyist ventures into thriving commercial operations. The dream is to transform Scandinavia into an essential global producer of white wines, which are beginning to flourish along Europe’s northern rim."

The Times writes that "in 50 years, Scandinavia’s climate is forecast to be more like northern France’s, as regional temperatures climb as much as 6 degrees Celsius. In the last decade alone, warming has produced milder winters, a longer growing season — and a small but rising number of award-winning wines."

The growth of the wine business there is significant, if small in comparison to traditional wine regions: "Denmark now boasts 90 commercial vineyards, up from just two 15 years ago, and around 40 have sprung up in Sweden. Nearly a dozen vineyards are operating as far north as Norway.

"But many are in the start-up stage and are tiny compared with established wineries in Europe, which has 10 million acres of vineyards — enough to cover almost all of Denmark. Producers in France, Italy and Spain own three-quarters of that land, dominating the European industry. By contrast, Denmark and Sweden have European Union approval to grow less than 1,000 acres of vineyards, and questions persist about quality and price."

There's also the matter of cost: "To capture consumers, though, the price must drop. Nordic wines average €30 to €40 ($33 to $44) a bottle because of labor costs that are triple those in France, Italy and Spain. Southern winemakers also get billions in European Union subsidies, which help them improve pricing and dominate the market. Denmark won European Union approval for winemaking only by promising to forgo subsidies."
KC's View:
Somehow, "a nice Norwegian red" doesn't roll trippingly off the tongue. On the other hand, it might roll smoothly past the tongue if the wine is good enough … and so what is going to be called for here is consumer education.

As a consumer, I'm happy to do my part.