Skarbø Gard: Sparkling passion by the fjord
By Celina Tran | Photos: Skarbø Gard
On their farm, dating all the way back to the Viking ages, the Norwegian-Spanish Skarbø family are bringing novelty and tradition together. Through their very own cheese and cider, they seek to create memorable experiences.
In Stranda, Norway, farm buildings from across the centuries stand strong on a hill rolling into the fjord beneath. Skarbø Gard is of the oldest farms in the area and has been in operation since the Viking ages. In addition to over 1,700 apple trees, the Skarbø family share their home with cows, hens, a vocal rooster and two wonderful cats. Here, they cultivate and make their own produce, all the way from field to fork.
“We aspire to create genuine experiences through our high-quality, natural food,” says farmer Kristine Skarbø. “We start with the soil – the same soil that has sustained people here for 1,000 years. The grass we grow becomes food for our cows, and from their milk, we make cheese. Our trees yield fruit, which we transform into juice and cider.”
This way, they bring forward an integral farm, a safe home for people, plants and animals, yielding delicacies enjoyed near and far.
Bringing the world home
All raw materials being home-grown, the Skarbø artisan products combine local craft with traditions from afar. Kristine began the farm’s adventure as a teenager, setting out to explore the world. Over the next few years, she found homes in many countries. Whether in Japan, Uganda, Ecuador, Colombia, the United States, Italy or Spain, she always enjoyed immersing herself in the local food culture. Her great interest in food and agriculture resulted in a PhD in anthropology, and a relationship with a fellow food lover, Carlos.
Carlos, an engineer, grew up in Andalucía, Spain. His upbringing was filled with a beautiful, green city garden where his family had chickens, home-grown fruits and vegetables. And like Kristine, Carlos often helped at the family farm in the Sierra Nevada countryside.
In 2014, the newlywed couple moved back to Norway to take over the Skarbø farm. Upon arrival, Kristine and Carlos wanted to create something new, while still bringing forth both families’ traditions. “Carlos’ family makes wine, but as grapes don’t grow as easily here, we decided to add a Norwegian twist and make cider instead!” Kristine explains. Starting with a wine press received as a wedding gift, and apples from the orchard, the first batches were relished by friends and neighbours. Soon after, Sunnmøre’s first cidery was established at Skarbø.
From apples to family gold
Cider has now become one of the farm’s specialities, and they’ve set out to produce even more. Last year, they planted over 1,700 new organic apple trees, and they intend to do the same this year. Their cider can be found in Vinmonopolet shops across Norway and at the century-old farm shop.
Skarbø Gard makes a range of single-variety and blended ciders from heirloom apple varieties like Petrine and Prinsareple. “The varietal characteristics, combined with our northern location, yield apples and cider ripe with taste” Kristine says. Having spent much of her former career researching farmers’ maintenance of crop diversity, she has a special passion for old apples. “By using heirloom varieties, we also keep tradition and biodiversity alive.” As such, one of their blended ciders is called Arvegull, Norwegian for ‘family gold’.
The Skarbø cider is made from pure, freshly pressed apple juice, with no chemicals added. “We want it to be a completely natural product,” says Carlos. Even the yeast is from the apple peel, and the cider is spontaneously fermented. “We add no sulphites, but instead carefully filter the yeast away. This way we can present a unique, artisanal and natural cider.”
Delicious drinks are of course best enjoyed with delectable foods, and at Skarbø Gard, cider is always accompanied by tapas made with their own cheeses.
Fresh milk, great taste
The farm has produced dairy products before, and its function as a district dairy only halted in 1917. Exactly 100 years later, having bonded over their love for cheese, Kristine and Carlos restarted the production, reintroducing traditions from both families to the farm.
Today they make three different cheeses, all from unpasteurised milk. “Preparing the cheese from fresh morning milk allows us to preserve all its good qualities, resulting in a one-of-a-kind cheese that mirrors the local landscape,” says Kristine. Soleglad (‘Sunset’) is the kind and mild version, Carmen (Carlos’ grandmother’s name) is made with smoked, Spanish paprika, and Apal (‘Apple tree’) is matured in cider – bringing it all together. Some cheeses are allowed to age in a small stone cellar, achieving characteristics of Spanish matured cheeses like Manchego. The Skarbø Gard cheeses are available in the farm shop, and supplied to restaurants, hotels and specialty stores.
Joy, passion, hope and courage
At Skarbø Gard, sustainability is highly valued. Through genuine products of high quality, they promote a green way of cultivating food. Kristine explains that they want to be sustainable in a deep and holistic way, ensuring that the earth can continue to sustain countless generations ahead.
Today there are three generations at Skarbø Gard: three small children and Kristine’s parents are involved in most farm endeavours. Two years ago, Kristine received the troubling message that she had breast cancer. During the difficult times ahead, Carlos and Kristine relied on four words to keep them going: joy, passion, hope and courage. Today the farmer is again in good health, and those words have become part of their core values, adorning the cider corks.
“It is essential to celebrate the little joys of every day,” says the couple. “To follow your passion, and focus on what holds importance. Always keep the hope that things will go well, and have courage to do what is meaningful for you.”
Through farming and sharing the fruits of their work, the Skarbøs hope to inspire others to follow their passion, wherever they are in life.
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Receive our monthly newsletter by email