Norwegian farmers are branching out and dabbling in the production of wine grapes. According to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), some 10 farmers are now planting vines on plots along the coast of Norway, seeking out varieties that can withstand the long, cold winters and shorter growing seasons than those found in wine-producing nations farther south.
Farmer Marius Egge, who has long been in the business of producing strawberries and apples, recently planted about 1,000 vines of the Solaris wine grape on his farm in Lier, just west of Oslo. He expects the crop will be ready for wine production two years from now.
The crop will yield enough grapes to produce about 3,000-4,000 bottles of white wine, and if production and sales go as planned, Egge intends to expand from four to 20 acres of vineyard after the first harvest. He told DN that northern exposure will serve as an advantage, as the vines will be less prone to attacks by fungus, weeds and vermin.
The harvest will be done by hand, and though Egge intends to bring in outside expertise from Germany during the first season, his familiarity with fruit farming and beverages makes the new endeavor less of a leap.
Egge’s farm already has been producing crops for alcoholic beverages for a few years now, creating a niche product of cider and apple liqueur that currently account for 5 percent of total revenues. The shift to wine-making will require minimal additional investment as Egge will be able to use the same facilities and equipment, with some minor modifications. “This is simply refining the primary production of the farm,” Egge told DN. “Wine is a natural next step.”
Arild Syversen of Rusvik Wineplants has been experimenting with vines for the past 20 years, and has found several varieties that are suitable to the Norwegian climate. Syversen says more and more farmers are considering vineyards as a possible side business, and told DN that “there is opportunity for substantial white wine production of excellent quality.”
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