Vino nordico

Nordic wine

The effects of global warming affect wine production worldwide.

by Maria Pia Rossignaud
28 May 2020
4 min read
by Maria Pia Rossignaud
28 May 2020
4 min read

The climate is changing and so is production.  Sweden's newfound wine-making capacity is a tangible result of global warming. Håkan Hansson is a Swedish wine grower and the fifth generation of farmers on his land in the country's south. He chose to tell his story in The Guardian, the British newspaper known for its habit of presenting complex issues like climate change through stories of ordinary life.

Håkan Hansson was able to frame the story of his family and their wine-making as the result of climate change, thanks to old diaries he keeps in a corner of his 18th-century house. They revealed meticulous details of the climate in the county of Scania, written by his mother, an amateur meteorologist. Thanks to them, he managed to piece together the puzzle of Swedish wine-making’s global success.

Wine world transformation

“We have an extra month of summer now. And winters are not like what they used to be. That’s why we can make wine,” explains the entrepreneurial fellow in the paper.

Unlike 50 years ago, global warming is prompting significant changes in farming, as the Euronews website also notes. This TV news channel covers events in the world from a European perspective.

A recent Franco-American study argues that an increase in heat of 2 °C would rob the world of half its winegrowing regions. Researchers from France's National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) have come up with a model to calculate the different phases of development for 11 of the commonest grape varieties in the world, which takes into account data from climate change forecasts. Other recent studies show that an increase in temperatures of between 2.7 and 4.7 °C, and a 40% decrease in precipitation, would leave the lands of the Mediterranean, including Southern Europe, barren as early as 2070. Bearing the brunt of these changes would be the hottest countries in Europe, like Italy and Spain, which would lose 65% of their arable land, while New Zealand and the United States would gain more. Countries like France and Germany would see production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are sensitive to heat, move north.

But returning to Scandinavia, Sweden is not the only country reaping the benefits of climate change to wine-making. Over in Denmark, 90 commercial vineyards have sprung up in the last decade. In 2005 there were just two in the entire country. Finland has also got in on the act and now boasts the northernmost vineyard in the world, overlooking Norway's largest fjord.

Of course, the figures are still very low. According to Sveneric Svensson, from the Swedish Wine Association, roughly 300 acres of his country's land is given over to grapes, against an EU total – mainly in France, Italy and Spain – of 8.2 million acres.

Production is relatively low too: Sweden produced less than 100,000 gallons of wine in 2019. "We are still very much in our infancy,"​​ says Svensson, "but commercial production is now serious. And the quality of the wine is very encouraging. There’s excellent feedback, from around the world."

Let’s save the wine

But if the scientists are right, and the map of wine around the world is going to make a radical shift because of global warming, then the increase in temperatures in the traditional wine-growing regions of Southern Europe means coming face to face with a more extreme and unpredictable climate, of strong rains, violent storms and hail.  To avoid the more serious consequences of climate change, countries signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have agreed to limit the increase in the world's average surface temperature since the pre-industrial era to 2 °C. To reach this goal, global greenhouse gas emissions will have to reach their peak in the short possible time, in order to then fall rapidly. By 2050, global emissions will be reduced to 50% of their levels in 1990, in order to reach carbon neutrality by the end of the century.

The UNFCCC's mission is also supported by the EU, which in the same time frame wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80–95% of their levels in 1990.

Eni shares the goal set in the UN's 2030 Agenda and is already looking to reduce emissions intensity by 43% between 2014 and 2025.