For the second consecutive year, a Washington vintner is bringing a taste of fine wine to Norsk Hostfest.
Gard Vintners is right next to the fine dining restaurant En To Tre in Oslo Hall, and offers Hostfest-goers wine tasting for $10, as well as wine by the glass and bottle. Wine tasting is offered from noon to 8 p.m. throughout Hostfest. Wine from Gard Vintners is also offered at En To Tre, and can be found locally at MarketPlace Foods, The Landing, 10 North Main and Souris River Brewing, a new microbrewery and restaurant hoping to open sometime in mid-October.
Alison Hevsinkveld, who handles business development for the winery, said Gard Vintners is located near Royal City, a small town in eastern Washington.
Dan Feldner/MDN • Alison Hevsinkveld, who handles business development for Gard Vintners, stands next to a wine display in their booth at Norsk Høstfest Wednesday morning. In addition to offering wine tasting and selling by the glass and bottle, Gård Vintners also has its wine offered at En To Tre, the fine dining restaurant right next door.
"We're an estate vineyard, so all our grapes for our wine come from our estate," Hevsinkveld said. "Lawrence Vineyards is the name of it."
The vineyard is named after the Lawrence family, which founded it. Hevsinkveld said the winery is actually the smallest part of a bigger entity including a large farm, which helped give the business its name because the Scandinavian word for farm or estate is gard.
"So we grow apples, cherries, row crops, beans and hay. We've got a big farm and then we have the vineyard," Hevsinkveld said. "And we've got about 250 acres of vineyard and we use about 30 percent of the vineyard for our own lines and then sell about 70 percent of the rest of the grapes to winemakers around the state."
Hostfest happens to be a perfect venue for Gard Vintners because the owners, Josh and Lisa Lawrence, both have Scandinavian blood - Swedish for Lisa and Norwegian for Josh.
"Which normally don't get along, but they actually do tend to do very well together," Hevsinkveld said with a laugh.
Gard Vintners brought several different wines to Hostfest this year for people to sample and buy. There is a white blend called Freyja, which is named after the Norwegian goddess of love and fertility. It is 78 percent Roussanne, 17 percent Riesling and 5 percent Viognier. Hevsinkveld said Don Isidro, a red wine, is probably their most popular. It's 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 percent Syrah, and is named after their vineyard manager, Isidro Mondragon.
They also brought their Altrusim Riesling and Altrusim Pinot Gris, which are both white wines, as well as their Cabernet Sauvignon.
When she gets some down time, Hevsinkveld has a few different things she'd like to check out at Hostfest. Going to a few of the concerts is high on her list, as is some general exploration of the halls. As with most Hostfest-goers, she will also be sure to check out some of the unique food being offered.
"The Bavarian almonds are my absolute favorite. Oh my gosh, you walk by them and I don't know how anyone can not eat them," Hevsinkveld said. "They're so good. Those are my favorite."
While the food has definitely caught Hevsinkveld's attention, so has the hospitality. She said it's striking just how nice everyone has been, which is something she said North Dakota has gained a reputation for.
"Oh my gosh, just amazing. Last year we stayed in the campground and this year we're staying with Shelly Weppler and her husband. They've been our host and they've just been great," Hevsinkveld said, adding they've also been taken out to dinner by the folks at Morelli's Distributing, which is their distributor in Minot. "Everybody's so nice, so nice. But a lot of people say that's just how North Dakota is, that's just what everybody does. We've had a very warm welcome."