How the Nordics Started Growing Wine
Betina Newberry is Owner of Dyrehøj Vineyard, Denmark's largest vineyard. We explore how a changing climate is enabling more Nordic vineyards.
A decade ago winemaking in cooler Nordic climates was considered to be a losing proposition. But now, due to climate change, it seems possible that Scandinavia could be turned into an essential producer of wines as traditional winemaking areas become too hot to sustain production.
There are some 90 commercial vineyards in Denmark, 40 in Sweden, and about a dozen in Norway. Betina Newberry owns Dyrehøj Vingaard along with her brother. It's Denmark's largest vineyard located on the lush Rosnæs peninsula. Betina shares her insights on how the Nordic wine scene has developed and what they've learned about making wine in cooler climates.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 1:28
Hi Betina. Welcome to the Nordic FoodTech Podcast. It's great to have you on today.
Betina Newberry, Dyrehøj Vingaard 1:33
Thank you very much for inviting me.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 1:35
I'd love to get started with the backstory of how you got into growing wine. So maybe you can just take us through a brief history of your own trajectory and how your vineyard came about.
Betina Newberry, Dyrehøj Vingaard 1:46
Well, the short story is that my brother bought this farm back in 2007 without thinking that this is going to be a wine farm. We actually come from a history of farming, pig farmers, normal farmers, and whatever. And my brother thought he wanted to do something else in life. He sold the piggery and then he bought this beautiful farm here. Then the very first year, one of the neighbors told him, "Tom, do you realize this is the best place in Denmark to grow wine?" Of course, he had never heard of wine in Denmark before, but it was too much of a hassle. Too much of a temptation. It was like getting a present saying okay, this space and these beautiful hills can do something as crazy as doing a wine in Denmark. So, we started initially looking for varieties. What kind of grapes can we actually grow? What kinds of soils are here? And is the climate as good as the neighbors actually said? So, we did put in a little bit of background check on what it actually takes to grow wine here. And then we started planting in 2008. And have just added on plants every year. Now we have just close to 10 hectares.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 3:16
At that point, was anyone else growing wine in Denmark or was this a new endeavor?
Betina Newberry, Dyrehøj Vingaard 3:21
No, we did have other wine growers here in Denmark. We're not the first. Normally say that we're sort of the second generation. The first generation were looking at testing varietals. So, they had a little bit of plants in the gardens and in smaller fields. Just to see what can actually work. One thing is theory and another thing is what happens when you actually put the plants in the ground. So, of course, we could sort of check with them and say what are your experiences? And then of course we looked abroad as well. Denmark is not a wine country when you talk at a university level with the plant development and the more scientific level. So we actually went to Germany to Freiburg - there's a Wine Institute in Freiburg that does a lot of development in plants, the genomes, and all that - to have chat with them and we had a lot of varieties we could test. So, the first years, we had a lot of different varieties in collaboration with the Wine Institute in Freiburg and tested them in the fields. So maybe the first four, five, six years, we were testing a lot. Through that tunnel of testing, we could see the light. Now we know what it is that we must plant that is viable for a constant delivery of grapes every year in any season. That's the thing.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 5:03
Can you share some more of what you discovered in terms of what works and what doesn't work when it comes to growing wine in the Nordics?