Climate change is warming the Nordics making it increasingly possible to produce wine commercially. Recently, the New York Times published a front page article exploring the budding scene of wine makers who see the Nordics as the next frontier. My guest is Betina Newberry who was featured in the article and owns Denmark’s largest vineyard, Dyrehøj Vingaard, along with her brother. This episode is full of insights on what it takes to produce wine in the Nordics and how the industry is developing as Betina shares her entrepreneurial journey.
- 1:40 How the vineyard started
- 5:00 Lessons learned in starting a Danish vineyard
- 14:50 How climate change is changing the wine scene
- 18:30 The taste of Nordic wine
- 24:50 The future of wine making
1:40 How did Dyrehøj Vingaard get started?
We bought the farm not thinking it would become a vineyard. Then one day our neighbor said, “Do you realize this is the best possible place to grow grapes in Denmark?”
3:20 When you started growing wine in 2008, were there any other vineyards in Denmark?
We’re the second generation. The first was focused on testing varieties in their gardens and smaller fields to see what was even possible. Now we know how to plant to get grapes delivered every year, every season.
5:05 What have you learned that works and doesn’t work when it comes to growing wine in the Nordics?
We need plants that can manage cold temperatures, fungi, and humidity.
6:50 What varieties are you able to grow?
Our main grape is Solaris.
8:30 What can you tell us about your operations?
We have a fine wine brand and brand that’s aimed for supermarkets. We have 5 employees. We’ve also always had a professional wine maker employed even when we weren’t growing anything yet.
How much wine are you producing every year?
About 50,000 bottles and 35,000 plants. We also run our own distillery to make use of all the leftovers.
12:00 What makes your place the best place in Denmark to grow wine?
On this peninsula, we have a mix of soils from an ice age landscape – very chalky and very sandy. We also get very little rain so the land gets about 100 hours more of sunlight than the rest of the country.
13:45 Why do you think more and more people are trying to produce wine in the Nordics?
The scientists have developed plants that makes it possible for us to run a business.
14:50 In 50 years, Scandinavia’s climate will look more like France. How do you account for that?
Farmers have always adapted to nature. One has to be entrepreneurial to survive.
18:30 What is the taste profile of Nordic wines?
Crisp fresh fruits with an abundance of acidity.
19:30 How do organic or natural wines fit into your practices?
The rules are very strict in Denmark.
23:40 What is your wish list from policymakers?
24:50 How likely do you think it is that the Nordics will be a major producer of wine in the future?
Red wine production will be in one country. White in another.
28:40 What is your vision for the food system in 10-15 years?
I hope that people get closer to the source and that we don’t have to transport everything. We also need to focus on biodiversity.
31:00 How do you introduce new vines to the climate?
You can find grapes going back to the Vikings.
31:45 What are we missing to create that future?
We have to change the way we make food and teach our kids differently. We need to consume less.
33:40 How have the New Nordic restaurants received the wine?
34:35 What partnerships have you developed?
36:40 What advice would you give to someone who wants to start making wine in the Nordics?
Making wine in the Nordics is crazy, but we’re doing it.
37:30 What’s a mistake you’ve made that we can learn from?
38:00 What collaborations are you looking for?
Investors who could see themselves be part of a Danish wine fairytale.
40:00 Will Denmark be a tourist destination for wine enthusiasts in the future?
We have 4 wine growers within 15 km of us.
40:40 What’s the best way for someone to get in touch?
41:20 What kind of investment do you currently have?
Who would have thought would make good wine in the Nordics.