The Arctic Circle: A new frontier for sustainable wine

When Emma Serner met and fell in love with Italian enologist Andrea Guerra in Tuscany, the young couple began to dream about starting their own vineyard together. “We were both very invested in climate topics and environmental questions,” said Serner, who was interning at the vineyard Guerra was working at. “But I really felt like it would be impossible to do in the south of Europe. Climate change really has become drastic and it’s affecting agriculture in a very severe way.”

In recent years, heat waves, drought and smoke from wildfires have wreaked havoc on vineyards around Europe, making it increasingly difficult to produce the same legacy wines that producers have consistently been churning out for centuries. Last year, southern European winemakers faced historically low harvests due to bad weather.

Serner suggested heading up to her home country of Sweden and setting up a vineyard on the island of Gotland, a southern province with warm, mild summers where her grandmother owned a summerhouse.

But Guerra wasn’t sure. “He had never heard of Gotland,” Serner said, “He asked, ‘What is it? Are there polar bears?’ You know, all the southern European myths about Sweden came up. And then he started asking very intricate questions about soil composition, climate, air humidity, UV radiation and the average temperature. After quite a while, he said he was still very sceptical, but there is potential.”

They took a leap of faith, and today, Serner and Guerra are the co-founders of Långmyre Vineri – a 10-acre vineyard on Gotland, with a collection of 26,000 vines. They are part of a small yet growing cohort of Swedish winemakers whose collective land area spans between 370 to 500 acres. “It was really just a fantasy,” admitted Serner. “But things kind of escalated quite quickly.”

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