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Gustave Niebaum. Courtesy of the Wine Institute Historical Photo Archives.

Article

Niebaum, Gustave Ferdinand (30 August 1842–05 August 1908), fur trader and wine maker, was born Gustav or Gustave Nybom in Helsingfors (now Helsinki), the son of a police official of Swedish and Baltic-German stock; his parents' names do not appear in currently accessible records. Finland at the time was a semiautonomous grand duchy of Russia. Niebaum became a sailor, but not just an ordinary seaman. Intelligent and a graduate of a gymnasium, Europe's equivalent of an American high school, he enrolled in Helsinki's Nautical Institute. Graduating at nineteen, he soon secured his master's papers and was in command of his own ship by 1864, in the service of the Russian American Company, sailing to Alaska....