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A Little About Our Scandinavian Heritage This Syttende Mai

Spring is in the air, and we are excited to share new wines with you this weekend while also celebrating our Scandinavian heritage! The 17th of May (aka Syttende Mai), Norway’s Independence Day, is the same weekend as our spring release.  Incidentally, the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle hosts the second largest 17th of May festival in the world, second only to Oslo, Norway. Anyone going today? It's a fun time to be sure!


Our Scandinavian ancestors traveled to the United States just before the turn of the century in the late 1800s, along with hundreds of thousands of Scandinavians at that time.


My great grandmother, Josie Kine, was Norwegian – her parents immigrated as children from Norway and settled in Minnesota, like many Norwegians at the time. She married my great grandfather, Harry Eldon Johnson, who was Swedish, and his family settled in Galesburg, Illinois, when they immigrated. Harry grew up neighbors with author-poet Carl Sandburg, also the son of Swedish immigrants. Sandburg was good friends with Harry’s brothers, and in fact mentions the brothers in his autobiography.


Josh’s paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Hegg – the Hegg farm is still in operation in Mølnbukt, Norway, and Josh’s relatives still live near there. Josh’s maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Borgen. The Borgen farm was founded in 1331 in Norway, and is currently owned and operated by Vidar Strom, a relative, near Kløfta by the Oslo airport. In the Middle Ages, the Borgen farm was owned by the Oslo Cathedral and later by a monastery.


Today, we celebrate our heritage in many ways. Our beloved winery, Gård – meaning “farm” in Scandinavian languages, is a tribute to both our farming and Scandinavian heritages. A few of our favorite wines are named with Scandinavian inspiration, such as Freyja (Norwegian goddess of love), Skål sparkling wine (meaning “cheers”), and Kvasir (Norwegian demi-god attributed for the Mead of Poetry which imbues wisdom to all who drink it).

As a family, we pay homage to our heritage largely through food traditions, whether it’s Grandma Dorothea’s Norwegian meatballs, Aunt Dorothy’s lefse (a large thin potato pancake, similar to a tortilla, often served with butter or butter and cinnamon sugar), or Grandma Della’s krumkaker (a crispy, flat cookie, somewhat akin to a pizzelle, that is rolled like a cone). The best part is that we’ve continued these food traditions with our own kids – Ava has especially embraced it and is even bringing back some recipes that have skipped a generation or two!


With this wine release, as with all, we hope you find reason to celebrate with family and friends for large or small reasons, and we raise our glass to say “Skål!” in our appreciation for your support!


Tusen takk,


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