Making wine in Sweden from Italian grapes, another curious project from Oenofors

Nordic Sea Winery is located in the beautiful small coastal town of Simrishamn on the Swedish south coast. A big portion of wine sold in Sweden gets its final touch here, the “winery” is owned by one of Sweden’s largest wine importers, Oenoforos. Now a new era begins at NSW. Previously wines that have been fermented in the wine regions have been shipped to NSW where they received final ageing and blending. Now a new project that also ferments the wines in Simrishamn starts, in other words doing the whole process from A to Z, except to grow the vines of course. BKWine Magazine’s reporter Ola Öhlund was on site when the first shipment of grapes arrived for sorting, crushing and fermentation.

This is the first part in a series of two. Part two, about the harvest, is here: A Swedish winery? Making Tuscan wine? Yes, indeed! | Per on Forbes.

A new project has just been launched at Nordic Sea Winery outside Simrishamn. Grapes picked in Tuscany are brought here and vinified on site in Skane. The aim is to produce a high quality wine that appeals to the discriminating consumer. The initiative has been started by the owner of Nordic Sea Winery, Takis Soldatos, who is also the owner of Oenoforos. A total of about six thousand bottles will be produced. The finished wines will be sold on auction and the surplus from the project will be donated to charity.

Oak and terracotta amphora fermentation vats

Oak and terracotta amphora fermentation vats, copyright O Ohlund

The grapes are harvested by hand in two organically grown vineyards outside the village of Cortona in eastern Tuscany. The vineyards have different exposures to the sun which affects the ripening of the grapes. One vineyard is south facing, while the other is more shaded behind a hill.

The winemaker in charge, Gerd Stepp, says that “the grapes in the more southern exposed vineyard ripen up to two weeks earlier than the grapes in the second vineyard, which affects the finished wine’s character.”

The grapes from the two vineyards are fermented separately and will then be blended in appropriate proportions to make the finished wine. The grape variety used is syrah. It is a relatively rare grape variety in Tuscany. “We did not want to use the region’s major grape, Sangiovese, because we do not want to be compared with the region’s traditional wines,” says Takis Soldatos. After harvest, the grapes were transported in a well-chilled truck from Tuscany to the winery in Skåne. Thanks to the cooling the grapes are kept fresh during the long journey.

The grapes have arrived from Tuscany

The grapes have arrived from Tuscany, copyright O Ohlund

Nordic Sea Winery is primarily known for producing some of Systembolaget’s (the Swedish monopoly) bestsellers, like Umbala and Zumbali Chenin Blanc. The business model has been to ferment the wines where the grapes are harvested. The finished wine is then transported to Simrishamn for finishing (ageing and blending) and bottling, or conditioning in bag-in-box.

With this project the Nordic Sea Winery now takes another step and starts producing wine from grapes in Simrishamn.

After careful sorting of the grapes where debris and unripe or mouldy grapes are removed, the grapes ferment both in oak barrels and in amphora. The aim is to evaluate what works best and then blend wine from different containers to make the finished product. In this way, the winemaker has greater freedom to create the finished wine.

Sorting of the grapes

Sorting of the grapes, copyright O Ohlund

The goal is to create a structured wine with good tannins that is built to be aged. The bottles will be adorned with motifs created by artists from Tuscany and Skåne. The hope is that the wines will become collectibles.

After vinification, the wines will be aged in oak barrels for at least 18 months, maybe up to two years. The plan is that they will then be sold at a charity auction where the proceeds will go to a project for the Baltic Sea. But you will have to wait until 2018 before you can bid on any of the bottles.

Ola Öhlund writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers.

Note: The Nordic Sea Winery in Simrishamn is open for visitors. You can have lunch, taste wines, and of course also visit the winery. More information:

And if you want to see how it is done in Tuscany, you can come on a wine and food tour to Tuscany with BKWine.

Travel to the world’s wine regions with the experts on wine and the specialist in wine tours.

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Putting the grape bunches on the feeder to destemming

Putting the grape bunches on the feeder to destemming, copyright O Ohlund

Closing the fermentation vat

Closing the fermentation vat, copyright O Ohlund

Gerd Stepp, the winemaker, giving instructions

Gerd Stepp, the winemaker, giving instructions, copyright O Ohlund

Filling an amphora with grapes

Filling an amphora with grapes, copyright O Ohlund

This post is also available in: Swedish

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