To North Gronby: On my second day in Skåne I drove north about 17 kilometers from Trelleborg on the Baltic coast to the small village of North Gronby to visit the Hällåkra vineyard and winery. I arranged my visit in advance with owner Håkan Hansson, who graciously shared his experience of starting Hällåkra on the land that had been his parents' farm and then invited to try one of his wines.
Rondo 2010: The Rondo grape is a hybrid varietal commonly cultivated for red wine in northern Europe due to is resistance to disease and the fact that it is early to ripen, similar to the Solaris hybrid. When I tasted Hällåkra's 2010 Rondo it reminded me of a Pinot Noir. I detected dark berries and an earthy aroma. Upon tasting I also picked up a hint of black licorice with the more predominant sour cherry flavour. I immediately thought it would pair well with poultry but Håkan added that it also complemented game meats and lamb. I purchased a bottle the next day in a Systembolaget in Malmo to bring home to Ottawa.
Hällåkra Vineyard & Winery: Håkan began to cultivate grapes in 2003 on the land previously farmed by his family. The land is approximately 12 kilometers from the Baltic coast on hilly terrain with gravel in the soil. Rondo vines make up 80% of the 4 hectares of plantings with the remaining 20% of the yield made up of Leon Millot and Regent (both hybrid red varietals). The goal is to steadily increase the number of plantings annually to reach the goal of 45,000 vines (there are currently 10,500 vines at the vineyard). Winemaking commenced at Hällåkra in 2003 with support from a Danish winemaker and in 2008 the first wines were sold commercially through the state-owned Systembolaget. Over the years Håkan has developed a network of supporters who help with harvest and promote or attend summer events in the beautiful garden patio. He is also establishing contacts in the chemistry department at the University of Lund to support research related to vinification. The conference centre at the vineyard, operated by Håkan's wife, provides the couple with the opportunity to pair Hällåkra wine with local cuisine.