Sunday, September 4, 2016

Wineries in Scotland – Yes, There Are Five or So…

(June 2016) Generally the first step I take before visiting a new country is to research their winery situation. However, when preparing to travel to Scotland on a golf and whiskey trip with my husband, I decided to wait until I actually arrived in the country to jump online and do a search, because Scotland is not exactly known for wineries. But guess what I discovered? There are wineries - of a sort - in Scotland, and it is possible that with global warming, there could be more in the future.

The Beautiful Greens of the Old Course in St. Andrews Scotland

Following is a list of the five major wineries I discovered:

1) Chateau Largo - First Wine Released in 2015

Probably the most famous grape winery in Scotland is Chateau Largo, located in the Fife region just north of Edinburgh. Fife is a warmer region close to the sea, and is also home to St. Andrews and many famous golf courses.  As we drove through Fife, I was impressed with the tourist routes and beautiful green hills.

Chateau Largo is the brainchild of Christopher Trotter, a local chef and food writer who had a dream to bring wine back to Scotland, given that it was made here in the past by the Romans.  After much research, he planted 200 hybrid grape vines, such as siegerrebe, that could withstand a cooler climate.  His first vintage was available in 2015, but deemed “undrinkable,” by the critics, due primarily to some winemaking issues.  However, Trotter was pleased, because he was able to prove that wine grapes can be grown in Scotland and used to produce wine.  He plans to continue in his efforts to produce a solid quality Scottish wine.

Given the predictions about global warming, Trotter may be proven to be correct in the future. This is because experts suggest that the warming earth may make it possible to grow winegrapes in cooler climates, such as Scotland. Southern England already has more than 100 wineries that are very successful in producing delicious sparkling wines.

Beautiful Green Fields of Scotland


2) Château Hebrides – Specializing in Black Muscat Wine

Another daring Scottish wine venture has occurred on an island in the Outer Hebrides where Donald Hope has made wine from 20 Black Muscat vines that he planted.  Though only sold at local farmer’s markets to date, wine from Chateau Herbrides has been reputed to be quite tasty.

Scottish Lamb

 3) Selkirk’s Island Winery (from Chile)

At a restaurant in St. Andrews, when I asked if there were any local Scottish wineries, the waitress immediately flashed me a sunny smile and said “Yes, Selkirk’s Island.” She then dashed off, but quickly returned with three mini bottles of Selkirk’s Island wine (sauvignon blanc, merlot, and a rose), and told me there were made in Scotland.

The bottle had an attractive label of a warrior Scotsman on the front, but also said quite clearly that it was a “Wine of Chile.” Turning to the back label, I discovered that the wine was bottled in the UK for St. Andrews Distillers. Very clever, I thought, to import wine from Chile and bottle specifically for the St. Andrews area – and it also created some local Scottish pride. Apparently the brand name - Selkirk’s Island - was created in honor of a daring Scottish adventurer who was marooned on an island off the coast of Chile.

Selkirk's Wine Bottled in Scotland

4) Multiple Fruit Wineries in Scotland

Scotland’s fruit and mead wineries have been creating delicious wines far longer than the newer grape based wineries. Though I was not able to taste any of these wines, the following three establishments are well advertised in Scotland:

Cairn O’Mohr – specializing in fruit and plant based wines

Highland Winery (Moniack Castle) – specializing in mead and fruit based wines.  Originally started at Moniack Castle, the winery has now been merged with a firm in the UK.

Orkney Wine Company – specializing in fruit and vegetable wines – some laced with whiskey

Bagpiper Playing in the Mist

5) Whiskey – Of Course!

During my visit to Scotland I had an opportunity to taste many Scotch whiskeys, and also attend the Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh to learn how to taste whiskey correctly. I was very surprised to learn how similar the whiskey tasting experience is to wine tasting.  See other blog posting here.

Whiskeys from Scotland


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