Dutch wine is getting better: ‘The ambition is enormous’ | NOW

The 2021 wine year was a reasonable year for Dutch winegrowers. The companies are often dead serious and the interest in products from the neighborhood is high. “Vinegrowing also benefits from the desire for regionality.”

“It didn’t even go that bad,” says Manon de Boer, spokesperson for the Association of Dutch Wine Producers, about last year’s Dutch wine harvest. “It is a small difference with the year before, partly caused by frost at the end of May.”

Another cause of problems was the fungal disease downy mildew. It ruins grapes that have been given too much moisture. This mainly happened in the summer, which was alternately warm and wet. “This causes the grapes to rot,” says De Boer. It was a whimsical year in that respect. “The vines grew less quickly due to the changeable weather.”

The number of square meters of winegrowing land has increased: from 260 to 275 hectares. This is mainly due to the expansion of existing plots of winegrowing, not due to the accretion of large numbers of new companies. “It’s about one hectare here and one hectare there,” explains De Boer. 100 of the approximately 175 winegrowers are members of the wine sector club.

More red and less white wine

De Boer finds it striking that the proportion of red wine has increased and the number of white wines has therefore decreased. According to her, almost 30 percent of production in 2021 was red wine, compared to a quarter last year. A possible cause of this increase is that downy mildew caused problems, especially with white grape varieties. For example, fewer or no Johanniter grapes were harvested in several places. The total number of bottles, which is around one million annually, has remained virtually the same as in 2020.

“The interest also relates to consumer awareness of CO2 emissions from transportation.”

Harold Hamersma, wine expert

Wine connoisseur Harold Hamersma sees the quality of Dutch wines gradually increasing, also due to the very serious way in which the entrepreneurs approach their grape cultivation. In terms of quantities, according to him, our country can never match Chile or France, but Hamersma likes to open a national wine. De Kleine Schorre from Zeeland, for example, whom he chose for KLM World Business Class. But also from Frysling from – indeed – Friesland makes his heart skip a beat. Hamersma also mentions St. Martinus. “And De Apostelhoeve, of course. That company shows how it can be done.”

There is also quite a bit of interest, Hamersma sees. “It fits in with the trend of recent years: what comes up close is tasty. We eat pig from farmer Henk and cauliflower from Piet and we pick herbs from the neighbourhood. And it has to do with the awareness of consumers who We have to deal with CO2 emissions from transport, and winegrowing also benefits from this leaning towards regionality.”

A lot of attention per grape

The increased quality is certainly related to the great attention that each grape receives. “There are many hobby farmers who spend a disproportionate amount of time in their grapes,” says Hamersma. “The grapes are given thermal underwear, so to speak, when it is cold and they put up an umbrella when the sun is too bright. The ambition is enormous.”

“You hardly find the wines in the supermarket,” says the wine writer. “The number of bottles is far too small for that. But there are nice webshops with Dutch wines, such as De Nederlandse Wijnwijnkel and Bob Wijn. And you also see winegrowers who provide tourism. They do guided tours, they rent out houses and hold meditation sessions. People like that.”