Feature Winery | Ainoa Winery | Finland / by Brian Yost

From hobby winemaking to Finland’s most respected producer of fruit wines, Ainoa Winery’s path to success was anything but conventional.

Back in Massachusetts, David and Paola Cohen were enthusiastic producers of wine for personal consumption and that might have been the end of the story. A career move that took the couple to Helsinki, however, changed their winemaking trajectory.

Bottles of Ainoa wine.

Bottles of Ainoa wine.

Picking blueberries. Visit Finland, Harri Tarvainen

Picking blueberries. Visit Finland, Harri Tarvainen

David and Paola discovered that wine making from kits or sourced fruit is simply not a thing in Finland. Not to be deterred, they began to experiment with local berries and soon discovered that they were producing wines of exceptional quality. Indeed, the Cohens were arguably making the best wine in the entire country.

Some of the berries for the Ainoa wines are cultivated, but the vast majority grow wild in the northern forests. The forest berries best express the terroir and produce wines high in acidity. The wines are often described as off-dry or even sweet, but the residual sugar balances the acidity resulting in world-class wine.

As often happens, the winemaking hobby morphed into a commercial venture and Ainoa Winery was born. It’s reputation was reinforced when Ainoa was awarded the Finnish Food and Culture Fund Award and then took home a gold medal and trophy for best in class at the Vinalies Internationales Competition in Paris. This coincided with an increased demand for Ainoa’s berry wines.

Asikkala Pulkkilanharju causeway through the lake region. Photo credit: Asikkala municipality

Asikkala Pulkkilanharju causeway through the lake region. Photo credit: Asikkala municipality

Autumn in Finland’s northern forests. Photo credit: Lomagraphics

Autumn in Finland’s northern forests. Photo credit: Lomagraphics

The new home for Ainoa Winery in Hollola, Finland.

The new home for Ainoa Winery in Hollola, Finland.

In order to expand production, the Cohens moved Ainoa Winery 90 minutes north of Helsinki to the town of Hollola on the southern edge of Finland’s Lake Region. The new location will eventually include a tasting space and allow Ainoa to sell direct to consumers.

It is very unlikely that you will find Ainoa wines outside Finland. Demand is likely to continue outpacing production. With this in mind, a trip to the Finnish Lake Region may be in order.