It may not have made the headlines in the national newspapers, but did you know that The East Neuk of Fife is home to Scotland’s first commercial vineyard? Christopher Trotter has planted 200 vines in Upper Largo, just a few miles down the coast from Crail. This year he will bottle a wine made from the Solaris grape variety (specially bred to ripen in cooler climates) and if the success continues, he has said he will seek investment to plant vines on his entire 2.4-hectare site.
Growing grapes to make quality wine in Scotland remains something of a pipe-dream (though who know what climate change might bring in 100 years?), but meanwhile there are plenty of Scots who have realised an ambition to own a vineyard and make wine in other parts of the world. In this year of ‘Homecoming’ it’s a nice time to consider those Scottish winemakers who are practising their craft in some seriously good wine estates around the globe.
A case in point is Gladstone Vineyards in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand’s North Island. Here, Glaswegian Christine Kernohan is MD and winemaker. She and her husband David emigrated from Scotland 30 years ago and took over Gladstone in 1996. She farms around 35 acres of vines, which are run on accredited ‘sustainable agriculture’ principles, and a new winery was built in 2005, complete with guest apartment accommodation. Gladstone’s wines are stocked by The St Andrews Wine Company.
Meanwhile, ‘El Escoces Volante’ is otherwise known as Norrel Robertson, one of the few Scottish Masters of Wine who makes wines in Spain under his own label, and under many other labels that can be found on supermarket shelves – you’ll find his Marquesa de la Cruz wines in Sainsbury’s for example. Like many others, Norrel trained as a winemaker in an English-speaking wine school, in his case in Lincoln in New Zealand.
Also based in Spain is Pamela Geddes. Pamela studied biochemistry at the University of Strathclyde before becoming a true flying winemaker. First, she touched down in Australia where she became sparkling wine maker for the giant Southcorp group, making their Seppelt sparkling range. Today, Pamela runs her own winery near Barcelona called Lobban Wines, and still makes some great fizz including the sparkling red wine, La Pamelita (available from Aitken Wines in Dundee).
There are plenty of other Scots crushing and fermenting grapes around the world, and others who may not have been born here, but who celebrate their strong Scottish roots. A fascinating case in point is Glenguin Estate, one of Australia’s top wine producers. It is owned and run by Robin Tedder. His Scottish grandfather, Arthur William Tedder, had a distinguished military career which saw him became a Peer of the Realm, and adopt the title ‘Baron of Glenguin’, chosen because of his happy memories growing up in Glenguin, where his father had been the Customs & Excise officer at the local Distillery (now Glengoyne). Robin Tedder officially bears the title of 3rd Baron of Glenguin, and is fiercely proud of his Scottish roots. His wines are also available from The St Andrews Wine Company.