Global Warming's Grapes of Laugh: Swedish Wine And A Fish Called Goby


Photo courtesty G. Almqvist at

Lots of Swedes grew grapes through the last 300 years - inside their "orangerie" or glassed-in greenhouses. But now grape-growing has come out of the glass closet on the Swedish Baltic islands of Öland and Gotland as well as a dozen other Swedish locations, helped by warmer summers and longer growing seasons.

The fruit of the changing Scandinavian climate is being made into local organic wine at Öland's Wannborga farm, which now constitutes part of the Northernmost wine region of the world. Wannborga is making reds, whites, brandies and also distilling an award-winning white-lightning grappa called DruvDigestiv. And though the different wines can be sampled at the farm, Sweden's strict liquor monopoly makes it impossible to buy any bottles to take home. Yet while a Baltic wine region may sound great, warming temperatures also constitute a dire threat to the former thriving Baltic cod and salmon fisheries. Warmer water and lack of dissolved oxygen are problems but now there's another possible problem: an ugly Black Sea fish called Goby.The Goby has over the last decade slowly invaded the Baltic, mostly near the Polish and German coasts, after arriving as unwelcome balast on long-haul container ships. Goby is a palatable eating fish, but in making a place for itself it has started to impinge on the natives.

Because the Goby likes long warm summers, the changing climate has allowed it to slowly make itself north to areas it would not have survived in previously, eating precious mussels, part of the brackish Baltic's necessary water filtration systems. While it hasn't yet established itself on Swedish coasts, there is reason to believe it soon can, and that the eco-system change will not be positive for the cod and salmon that are struggling to survive the various environmental onslaughts. One piece of good news: bladderwrack, necessary for the eco system, is making a comeback. Via (Swedish)

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