Updated: Feb 22
The 18th of February normally a rather innocuous day is actually Global Drink Wine Day. In celebration of the delightful beverage a little digging into the wines of Scotland is necessary. From fruit wines to failed attempts there is an interesting history and present wine culture in Scotland. Not just the drinking aspect of course! There are companies and individuals that are practicing the age-old tradition of wine making in Scotland.
Located in Fife the warmer East Coast is known for its fertile soils. It is here that Christopher Trotter, a chef and food blogger created Scotland's first vineyard, and produced Scotlands first wine in 2015. The allusive Château D’Ecosse was described as not great but was still a success for Trotter as he was dedicated to proving that Scotland could produce wine. Despite the oxidation of the first vintage critics did mention that it had potential. Richard Meadows, owner of Great Grog Company stated that it had "nutty notes" and "might complement a strong cheese." He created a hybrid strain of early ripening grapes using Solaris and Siegerrebe varieties, he hoped to take advantage of warmer summers that have begun to appear in Scotland due to global warming. Despite this noble motivation of bringing wine back to Scotland it seems that a little more warmth was. After a sequence of cold and rainy summers Trotter uprooted his vineyard in 2018. He has mentioned that it may have been too hasty. Maybe there will be a possibility in the future for him to try again...
A small and very independent produce, known locally and by those who are dedicated to wine and Scotland. Donald Hope of the Outer Hebrides Vineyard Located in the Butt of Lewis. He produces a Black muscat wine from grapes he grows in his small holding. Despite the 100mph winds and midge infested locale he has over the years been able to create 6000lbs of Black Hamburg Grapes. The red Vitis vinifera grape variety is derived from the crossing of the Schiava Grossa and Muscat of was first made in 1850 according to the Vitis International Variety Catalog. The grape was bred for the British Isle so is sturdy enough to handle less than ideal climes. It often produces a highly aromatic and sweet palate - with a very rich coloring. This wine is small batch and can be found in farmers markets. Local customers and regulars seem to buy him out each time he sells. If you find yourself in the Butt of Lewis during wine season, be sure to hunt down this legendary bottle.
Cairn O'Mohr Fruit Wines
The company was established in 1987. By founders Ron ans Judith Gillies who first met playing poker on a river oat in the Panamanian jungle. We all know that fruit is something that grown in abundance in Scotland and fruit wine is a historical drink in Scotland and many other countries. A drink often popular with at home winemakers, this entrepreneurial couple have managed to create a business out of their passion. The wines themselves are made in a traditional way, some would say the proper way. It involves the fermentation of the fruit and at least a year of maturation. It is this technique that gives the wine a real taste of vinosity ans well developed flavors. Various local farmers often sell their spare fruit to the couple. Meaning that along side the core flavors or Strawberry, Raspberry, Bramble, Elderberry and Oak Leaf. They often have limited edition blends and experimental ones as well.
Their online store and more information can be found here : https://www.cairnomohr.com/
Orkney Wine Company
“A family run business that produce handcrafted, sulfur free, vegan friendly fruit wine”, a small but efficient company is located in on Lamb Holm, Orkney, Scotland. They are known for using 100% natural ingredients therefore the quietly of the produce and product is assured. Their story began in 1995 when Emile van Schayk received a collection of recipes four fruit and country wines from a retired shepherdess in Stranraer. Moving to Orkney the family them began obsessively making theses tasty concoctions fine-tuning and tweaking them until they were just right. After entering the local Home-brew and Wine competition and then winning two years consecutively Emile decided to turn his hobby into a business.
The Orkney red is a full bodied wild berry wine. The majority of the flavour is blue berries however six other berries add notes and distinct aromas to this bottle. Orkney white Elder-flower and Gooseberry wine with gooseberry, rosehips, rhubarb and barley. And the rose is a unique blend of herbs and fruits; aronia, salal and rose hip are the central tones of this bottle. If you are interested in buying a bottle to celebrate Global wine day then you need to look no further : https://www.orkneywine.co.uk/
An honorable mention to the Highland Winery which has recently been merged with another company meaning that although their fruit wines are no longer available. You can still purchase their mead at https://lymebaywinery.co.uk/. There have been many attempts at wineries in Scotland and maybe with global warming there will be a chance to develop them in the future. In 2050 is is thought that many wine regions will get too warm for the grapes. A revival of Scottish vineyards may not be off the table.