The Orkney Wine Festival


We organise and host the Orkney Wine Festival, which has been taking place in early summer every year since 2007.  It’s the UK’s only week-long wine festival, and has become a highlight of the year for lovers of good food and wine across the county – and beyond.

This year’s festival will be organised slightly differently from the past few, as it will take place over two consecutive weekends:

  • Friday 11th May to Sunday 13th May 2018
  • Friday 18th May to Sunday 20th May 2018

Details of all events will be released in early April, and we’ll start taking bookings then too.  To ensure you’ve the best possible chance of getting tickets, make sure you’re on our mailing list by emailing us at


The festival always features a varied mixture of events.  There are delicious menus specially devised to match the wines being poured; some of these are informal bistro-style meals, others more formal dinners (though nothing TOO formal.)  There are also one or two mixed-media events: last year we combined a poetry reading with New Zealand wine, and we’ve had live music events more than once, from jazz guitar to Lone Star Swing.  A special film-night with our friends at the West Side Cinema in Stromness, and the Strangely Delicious pop-up wine bar, is now a fixture.  There’s always a wine fair with 50 or so wines to try for a flat entrance fee, and there are casual, free tastings in the shop too.

All of these events are attended –  indeed, made possible – by leading winemakers, importers and experts from around the world.  The festival is a unique opportunity to talk to these fascinating people, ask them about their wines, and hear their stories.  It really is a wonderful chance to do more with wine than just drinking it!

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Past highlights

There have been so many great moments over the years, that it’s impossible to pick out favourite events.  However, to give a flavour of what goes on, we will choose one particularly memorable event from each of the 11 festivals so far.

2007       This is where it all started!  28th May saw Jan Pettersen of Fernando de Castilla introducing us to his superb range of sherries, with Orkney tapas by The Creel.

2008       Paulo De Marchi of legendary Chianti producer Isole e Olena thrilled us at The Lynnfield, and was thrilled himself by a trout-fishing afternoon on Harray Loch, courtesy of the Merkister.

2009       This was the year we introduced our Wine Fair, where you pay a token fee, grab a glass, then circulate around a suitably spacious venue, trying up to 50 wines, and chatting with our winemaker guests.  An amazing opportunity to try things you’d never normally choose – or splash out on.

2010       Our third visit from Plantagenet of Western Australia, making them (so far) our most frequent guest.  Their superb wines are still on our shelves eight years on.

2011       A perfect match of food at wine at Lucano, as Francesco cooked a special menu of dishes from his native Basilicata, and Marco Scarinci introduced a stunning selection of wines from the area.

2012       With cheese playing a bigger than ever part in Kirkness & Gorie, this was the year of our first all-day cheese and wine tasting in the shop.  Special artisan and farmhouse cheese from across Europe, and a lot of fun finding wines to match them.

2013       Our first ever film night in Stromness Town Hall.  The film wasn’t very good (we’ll be polite and not mention its name) but the Tuscan wine that Giacomo Alari poured was superb.

2014       A seafood spectacular at the Skerries Bistro was a real highlight this year, complemented by German white wines, as was a much better film in Stromness: Cinema Paradiso, with Sicilian wines from Donnafugata to match.

2015       Our first (and so far, only) 100% sparkling wine dinner, featuring Devaux Champagne and another seafood feast at the Skerries.

2016       We’ve had quite a few celebrated wine people with us over the years, but none more influential than Kevin Judd, founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay, who, after 25 vintages, upped the stakes with his own label, Greywacke.  Great wines, and great insights from Kevin.

2017       A strong New Zealand theme to this festival following Duncan’s trip there in the spring.  But also superb events highlighting Rioja and Argentinean wine.  By general consensus, our best festival so far!  And you know, I think 2018 will be even better…