How Does a Finnish Man Make Wine?

Believe it or not an adventurous man in the Scandinavian country of Finland has started making his own wine. This should be impossible, so why isn’t it? The Ideal Wine Company investigates.

Finnish wine

When you think of wine making countries, what comes to mind? If you’re a fan of old world bottles, you may think of France, Spain or Italy. If you like the difference between old and new world wines, countries such as the US, Argentina and Australia may enter your head.

What do these countries all have in common; blissfully hot climates! We tend to think that only hot countries boast the necessary climate to make wine, yet even colder countries such as Finland have developed robust wine making traditions over the years. Finland is known for producing ice wine and berry wine in red, white and sparkling varietals.

Defying the odds

But temperatures in Finland regularly dip below freezing, and in the winter they can slip as low as -36 degrees Celsius. This is why grapes aren’t traditionally grown in Finland, and even though there are a small group of wine producers in the Scandinavian nation, it isn’t classed a wine making country by the EU.

But Yahoo News recently reported that one of the few wine producers in the country has revealed how he defies the odds. The article said 74 year old Kaarlo Nelimarkka, who owns the Sundom Winery in Vaasa, Western Finland, has started to grow Riesling, Merlot and Chardonnay grapes.  He combines these with sturdier varietals such as Solaris and Gewurtztraminer to make 400 white, red and rose bottles of his special Sundom Wine per year.

The Yahoo piece explained that Nelimarkka’s product was recently sampled by Finnish wine enthusiast (and former expert for Finnish alcohol monopoly Alko) Hannu Hokka. He was impressed by the wine, saying “the taste was fine and well-balanced, to go with salads or crayfish. Without knowing better, I could have never guessed it was from a minor Finnish producer.”

Summer sun

So what’s his secret?  Apparently it’s snow! The snow acts as insulation, so when the winter rolls around, it shields the vines in Sundom from the cold so they can be used to grow wine making grapes again the next summer. He also stores heat retaining stones under vines, which he cut’s down to a foot in size for the winter, to lend them further protection from cold and humidity.

According to 74 year old Kaarlo Nelimarkka, the summer sun is also key to wine making at Sundom. Vaasa is located just 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle, where in summer daytime lasts nearly 24 hours. Sundom experiences up to 20 hours per day – 30 days’ worth – of sunlight every summer; enough to produce quality wine making grapes.

Try our wines

Despite everything, this Finnish man and his contemporaries have found a way to make decent wine. They produce the type quality vintages that are also grown in warmer climates such as Bordeaux, France. If you want to see just what a Bordeaux vintage tastes like, since it’s pretty hard to find Finnish wine, why don’t you buy the Chateau Margaux 1993 from the Ideal Wine Company right now!


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