On the grapevine

The initial batch of wine produced by the Norwegian School of Hotel Management from a vineyard at the University of Stavanger has been well received at its first tasting.

An exclusive group became the first to taste the UiS wine at the Norwegian School of Hotel Management on 30 April.  (Photo: Elisabeth Tønnessen)

FLAVOURFUL: An exclusive group became the first to taste the UiS wine at the Norwegian School of Hotel Management on 30 April. Associate professor Helge Jørgensen invited hotel professionals, the UiS leadership, students and employees to give feedback.

«It has a clearly acid flavour and a slightly sweet bouquet» says a satisfied Helge Jørgensen after sampling the red wine from the project for the first time.

«For the moment, this is a light and uncomplicated product. But it’s going to become more full-bodied. It definitely has potential.»

An associate professor at the Norwegian School of Hotel Management , Jørgensen has been the prime mover in establishing the vineyard at the university’s Ullandhaug campus.

He is now keen to see how the UiS vintage will be received, and assembled an exclusive group for the first official tasting at the hotel school this spring.

The gathering was served three different wines – a rosé produced from Solaris grapes, a dark red from Cabernet Cortis and a blend of grape types dubbed Schüller.

Including hotel professionals, the UiS leadership, students and employees, those present were all enthusiastic about the new product and the pilot project they were told about.

«The Cabernet Cortis variant undoubtedly has the greatest potential, so I think that’s the one we’ll stick with,» says Jørgensen.

He will now be further developing the wine, backed with good suggestions from those who had the pleasure of attending the tasting.

UiS pro-rector Tor Hemmingsen finds it exciting that the hotel school has not only cultivated its own grapes but also developed its very own wine. He believes it could become a trademark for the university.

Christian Topstad, a partner in the SemaGroup consultancy, is also enthusiastic about the UiS product. «I think it could have appeal. There’s a good story behind it, which will influence the tasting experience. This should be a wine which tells a story and which takes you back to your roots.»

Dan Steffen Aasen, former manager of Stavanger’s Rica Park Hotel, agrees: «Norwegian wine will never be the new Bordeaux, but this is a good starting point for local storytelling. Moreover, the Norwegian School of Hotel Management will now have the advantage that it can show students the whole process of wine production.»

The new UiS wine has an alcohol content of 15.6 per cent and an acidity slightly above seven per cent. Jørgensen says that the next move is to develop its flavour and reduce the acidity a bit.

He is looking forward to continuing work with the pilot project and with academic colleagues who will be doing research on developing and producing the wine.

While his first harvest yielded 35 bottles, he hopes to raise that figure to several thousand as wine-making becomes part of the experience centre at the hotel school.

This facility will provide students with teaching in kitchen and restaurant auditoria as well as housing a wine laboratory and a museum for cookery books.

And Jørgensen’s students will be back at work in the vineyard during the autumn, taking care of almost 300 plants which have grown to a sturdy size since they were planted in 2005.

Helge Jørgensen with the new wine (Photo: Elisabeth Tønnessen)

PRIME MOVER: Associate professor Helge Jørgensen is proud that the UiS is the world’s northernmost university with its own vineyard and wine. (Photo: Elisabeth Tønnessen)