Yes, grapes do grow in Finland, Source: Viininkasvattajat ry

Finland sets sights on becoming a wine country in 2028

Finland sets sights on becoming a wine country in 2028

And it has as much to do with EU bureaucracy as with climate change

Earlier this month, news came out that the Finnish government has drawn up an agricultural programme that includes applying to the European Union to recognize the country as a wine producer.

What would that mean in reality though? Currently, most people would raise their eyebrows at the idea of having their favourite grape tipple come from a country famous for Santa Claus and saunas. However, wines are produced in Finland, although these are berry wines, which have nothing to do with the classic idea of wine.

In fact, the few grape growers that exist in the country and attempt to convert their produce into wine do not have the right to label it so. They can only designate their product as a "mild alcoholic beverage produced from grapes by fermentation". Not so great for marketing, right?

Back when agricultural policies were designed as part of the European Community, large wine producers like France and Italy sought to protect their interests and to get funding for their star sectors.

These days, however, the market has grown and is growing substantially with new players coming into it. And a large part of this, apart from the “mainstreamization” of wine consumption has to do with global warming, which is making it possible to plant vines further North. In fact, Finland’s neighbour, Sweden, has been enjoying a wine-producing status under EU law since 1999.

Will Santa become a wine producer?

Sweden’s Skane region does enjoy a more southern latitude and has been often called the Nordic Provence. Yet, with the way things are shaping it is only likely that the Finnish climate will also become more and more suitable for grape growing in the coming decades.

What’s more, the chronic droughts and fires in the southern fringes of Europe, which are also the powerhouses in wine production, are making that activity less suitable and predictable. After all, the vineyards need certain stability in the microclimate. And Scandinavia now presents a much more predictable climate.

There is already a wine producers’ association in Finland, called Viininkasvattajat ry, and it’s their lobbying that’s behind the government plan to ask the EU for the coveted wine designation.

Now we need to work through these blockages so that we can start development work," said Kari Latvus, chair of the association, quoted by Yle news agency. "The most important thing is of course that producers should be allowed to make wine in Finland and call it wine."

Still, the earliest that the Nordic country could expect to be granted the status would be 2028 when the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget will be determined. And it would take several years for the local industry to develop wines (likely white ones or champagne), so all oenology enthusiasts will have to exercise patience before being able to sample the aroma bouquets from the land of Santa Claus.



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