Meet Pattie & Mark Björnson
Pattie and Mark met at the University of Minnesota in 1985. They married, raised four children, and worked in the Twin Cities until Mark was able to move his job to Oregon in 2005. Their plan was to spend weekends driving the countryside in search of their dream – a vineyard site with forests and streams. Within months, they purchased a scenic 107-acre farm in the Eola-Amity Hills and set to work. Since then, they have cleared and planted a 28-acre vineyard, built a winery, and produced award-winning wines. Their progress was made possible by taking viticulture and winemaking classes at Chemeketa Community College. Pattie also interned at Bethel Heights Winery, learning from Ben Casteel.
“LOOK ME UP WHEN YOU WANT TO GET MARRIED.”
The idea for Björnson Vineyard was conceived in the 1980’s when Pattie met Mark at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. Pattie asked, “What do you want to be doing in 20 years?” Mark contemplated a moment before answering, “Long-term, I want to live in the country, plant an orchard and garden, and raise a big family.” Pattie was shocked. Most people in business school during the 1980’s had long-term goals of running a Fortune-500 company, not running a family farm. She responded with humor, “Wow! Look me up when you want to get married.”
The dream of an orchard evolved into a vineyard after a staying at several small wineries on month-long tandem bicycle trip through Europe in 1993. By this time, we had developed an interest in wine, and since we loved the beauty of Oregon, it was the natural target for our land search.
Our passion for wine has grown out of an interest in many things. We love to grow and prepare quality food. We love to travel and meet new people. We love to work with our hands and be outside. We love to learn. Growing grapes and making wine embodies all these interests in a special way.
Our passion for Pinot Noir probably began in 1989 when we went to purchase wine for our wedding. We asked the Wine Steward how many cases of White Zinfandel we should buy for 150 guests. The Wine Steward tactfully encouraged us to purchase a number of different varieties so that all of our guests might find something appealing. After the wedding, the leftover wine became the start of our cellar. Over time, we gravitated to Pinot Noir as our favorite variety.
The Björnson Family
From the moment that we met, we have agreed about the importance of family – both nuclear and extended. Although we grew up in families that were quite different in many aspects, our core beliefs were the same. To us, winemaking is a passion (is just a way to make a living); the family is life. We hope that we can instill these values in our own children.
Kaitlyn – graduated from Oregon State University in Chemical Engineering, works as process engineer in California.
Kristjan (Kris) – graduated from University of Oregon, completing the CPA exams, will pursue a Masters in Analytical Audit at University of Southern California beginning in the fall of 2018.
Claire – student at the University of Oregon double-majoring in Romance Languages (passion) and Accounting (future day-job).
Hunter – student at West Salem High School, involved in student government.
We are extremely thankful for the continuous help and encouragement we have received from our family and friends – those who understand our past and believe in our future. We are grateful for to the many experienced people in the Oregon Wine Industry who have welcomed us, mentored us and helped us get established. It is a tremendously supportive and collaborative community. In particular, John Grochau, Grochau Cellars has been with us since the beginning, buying our fruit, making our wine prior to 2014, and continuing to mentor Pattie as she stepped into the winemaking role for Björnson. Also Drew Voit, Harper Voit continues to tutor and mentor us as we develop our winemaking skills.