Gård Vintners: A promising new winery takes pride in its roots

By Christy Olsen Field
Copy Editor
Gård Vintners, a new winery in Washington state's Columbia Valley, is proud of its Norwegian roots

Gård Vintners, a new winery in Washington state’s Columbia Valley, is proud of its Norwegian roots

Though it is a relatively young wine industry, Washington state is now the second largest wine producer in the United States, and ranks among the world’s top wine regions. With more than 30,000 acres planted, the state has the ideal geography and climate conditions for growing premium grapes. Washington produces more than 20 wine grape varieties, focusing on Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Winemakers from all over the world come to Washington to create wines reflecting this region’s unique characteristics. These hand-crafted wines receive wide acclaim for their consistently high quality. Vineyards and wineries across Washington state are dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices, and to create award-winning wines.

Gård Vintners is no exception. This new up-and-coming winery in Washington’s Columbia Valley is the product of the Lawrence Cellars, which strives to capture the quality of their estate vineyard in the glass. The Lawrence family has farmed the Royal Slope near Royal City, Wash. for over 40 years.  Brothers Hervey “Sandy” Lawrence and John Lawrence started farming on the Frenchman Hills in 1965 with crops of apples and cherries. In 2003, the Lawrences planted grapes to try their hand with estate wines, and began making wine in 2006 with winemaker Robert Smasne. Smasne is based in Grandview, Wash., and consistently scores in the 90s with many of the wines he has made in recent years.

Gård Vintners managing partner Josh Lawrence, with wife Lisa and daughter Addison

Gård Vintners managing partner Josh Lawrence, with wife Lisa and daughter Addison

When it came time to choose a name for their new wine label, the Lawrences wanted to do something a little more creative than their last name. It was Lisa Lawrence, Josh’s wife, who suggested the name “Gård Vintners.” Gård, meaning “farm” or “estate,” pays tribute to the rich Norwegian heritage on both sides of the Lawrence family. The Lawrence brothers grew up in the strong Norwegian community of Grays Harbor, Wash., and take pride in their Norwegian roots. Relatives in Norway still maintain the Borgen family farm near Kløfta (36 kilometers northeast of Oslo), which was owned by the Oslo Cathedral during the Middle Ages, and another set of relatives live on the family farm in Mølnbukt, Snillfjord (100 km northwest of Trondheim).  Gård Vintners takes pride in their name and their Norwegian heritage with every bottle.

In December 2007, Gård Vintners released their 2006 Dry Riesling ($22/bottle). Made in the dry style of the great Rieslings of Alsace, the Dry Riesling has lively fruit-forward hints of melons, stone fruits, citrus, green apple and honey, and balanced acidity with a crisp finish.  The Dry Riesling is barrel fermented in neutral oak, and complements poultry dishes, fish and seafood, as well as Asian and Southwestern-inspired dishes.

Gård Vintners’ 2006 Don Isidro red wine blend debuted in the fall of 2008.  The Don Isidro is a blend of 53% Syrah and 47% Cabernet Sauvignon ($20/bottle). The Lawrences currently grow Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Gris, and Roussane in their estate vineyard. Gård Vintners’ flagship wine is their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($35/bottle), and the 2007 Dry Riesling will soon be released ($22/bottle). One to watch is their 2006 Syrah— with just 62 cases produced, this vintage will sell out quickly!

Gård Vintners will open a tasting room in Woodinville, Wash. in February 2009, as well as expand their distribution from eastern Washington. Orders and pre-orders can be made online at www.gardvintners.com.

At your next gathering with family or friends, honor your Norwegian heritage by sharing a bottle of Gård Vintners wine. For more information, visit www.gardvintners.com and join their mailing list for the latest news and upcoming events.

Gård Vinters, a new winery in Washington state's Columbia Valley

This article was originally printed in the Norwegian American Weekly on January 16, 2009.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.