The Orkney Wine Festival 2019

2nd May: festival starts today!

We’re delighted to announce the launch of the 2019 Orkney Wine Festival.  This year’s festival focusses on two countries – France and Portugal – over two long weekends.  Two entertaining, knowledgeable guests will be introducing us to their delicious wines, and restaurants have prepared special menus to match them.  We’re making our festival debut at The Storehouse; and we have a hands-on winemaking experience for the first time, in another new venue, Kirkjuvagr’s Orkney Distillery.   Ticket sales have been excellent for all events, but there are a few places available for most nights, and a waiting-list in operation for fully-booked events. Phone or email to book, or for more info: contact details below. 

 The festival will be fun, informal and informative.  And with 10% off all wine bought or ordered during the 11 days of the festival, it’s the perfect opportunity to stock up for summer!

Samantha Bailey, winemaker, and this year’s first guest

Samantha Bailey, winemaker, and this year’s first guest

THURSDAY 2nd May   7.00pm

  1. Vegan Wine and Vegan Food from South-West France, with Duncan McLean


It might surprise you to now how often we get asked for vegan wines in K&G.  And it might surprise you to find out how many of our winemakers do indeed avoid using casein (from milk) or isinglass (from fish) and other animal products in their work.  Why on earth would they use such things to start with?  And does avoiding them help or harm wine quality?  While considering these questions we’ll drink six fantastic wines – sparkling, white, red and sweet – from one of Duncan’s favourite wine areas.  Helgi’s have devised a special menu inspired by the famously meat-centred cuisine of the Languedoc, made entirely with plant-based ingredients.   You don’t have to be vegan to come along – everyone is welcome – but if you are, this is the event for you!



2. Blend In to Stand Out: mix your own wine, with Samantha Bailey

Kirkjuvagr, The Orkney Distillery, Kirkwall.  £30.00.

Samantha Bailey has lived in France for nearly 30 years, working as a winemaker for leading wineries.  Over the weekend we will sample various wines she’s had a hand in, but tonight we get hands-on ourselves.  An underappreciated part of winemaking is the art of blending.  Sometimes wines from one vineyard’s grapes are bottled, as simple as that.  But more often different grape varieties from different vineyards are brought together to create the perfect balance of ripeness, flavour and mouthfeel.  Samantha will provide tank samples from her latest rosé vintages: she’ll then lead us through different combinations and proportions, till we reach our own personal favourite blend (enough to have a glass or two, not enough for a takeaway bottle, I’m afraid!).  After a break for cheese, olives and charcuterie (NB not a full meal) we will reconvene for a tasting of a few of Samantha’s best blends.  The evening will finish with live music from Eric Linklater & Friends in the bar, where a special wine list will be on offer if you want a glass or two more.


SATURDAY 4th May   12.00pm – 3.00pm

3. Go Wild for Gamay, with Samantha Bailey

Kirkness & Gorie, Kirkwall.  Free.

Gamay is one of Samantha’s favourite grapes, and she makes her home in its homeland, southern Burgundy, source of joyous, juicy, refreshing Beaujolais.  Meet up to try five or six of the greatest Gamays, from simple fruity wines to intensely flavoured single-village crus.  All red, and all delicious!  There’s sure to be some cheese and nibbles on the go too.  Drop in for five minutes or stay an hour, come alone or bring a crowd…


SATURDAY 4th May   Wine served from 7.00pm, film 7.45pm. FULLY BOOKED AT K&G: TRY THE BOOKSHOP ON 850565

4. West Side Cinema presents: Citizen Kane

Stromness Town Hall, Stromness.  £5.00

Classic film and classic wine!  We’re linking up with our friends at West Side Cinema to present perhaps the greatest film ever made, matched with top drops from the Strangely Delicious Wine Bar.  The wine will cost between £2 and £5 per 125ml glass, or between £8 and £20 per bottle to share or take away.   (Glasses provided.)  This year we are keeping things simple and not providing food, so bring your own snacks or just feast on the film,  For this event only, tickets are available from Stromness Books & Prints as well as from K&G.

Citizen Kane Tickets pic cropped.png

SUNDAY 5th May   12.30 for 1.00pm

5. Lux Lunch: France, a Personal Selection, with Samantha Bailey


Back by popular demand, a Wine Festival Lux Lunch!  Meet in the lounge at 12.30 for a glass of Crémant du Jura Brut, then enjoy a leisurely three-course, French-style lunch – finishing with a luxury cheese board.  Samantha will introduce us to some delicious French wines, from the south-west to Burgundy to Jura, all personal favourites, and several made by her.  The Lynnfield’s food needs no higher recommendation than to say we are already looking forward to our 13 Lux dinners there next winter!  



Home sweet home!

Following last year’s trial, we’ve decided to stick with the idea of having events over two weekends, leaving the days inbetween to recover and – let’s face it – get up for work in the morning.   There’s still 10% off all wine bought or ordered in the shop, so drop in and see us any time during the week.  It’s good to have time to chat during the festival, rather than rushing from one event to the next all week long.


FRIDAY 10th May   7.00pm

6. A Portrait of Portugal, with Peter Methven


Portugal is probably the most exciting wine-producing country in Europe right now.   It has a host of little-known indigenous grapes bursting with fruity flavours, and its relative obscurity means that it provides amazing value for money.  The perfect guest to talk us through its wonders is Peter Methven.  A native Glaswegian with a life-long career in wine, Peter is ambassador for Sandeman Port, a grand old house, which is also associated with table-wine producers in many parts of the country, from obscure to relatively well-known.  We do have two of the country’s well-known wines tonight – a zingy Vinho Verde and a sweet, nutty Tawny Port – but on top of that we’ll be offering eight delicious wines you’ve probably never encountered before: Encruzado white!  Sossejo rosé!  Trinca Bolotas red!  Last year we invented a ‘four from ten’ choice for our Old Library event, and we’re going to do the same this time.  On entry you’ll be given four vouchers, each of which ‘buys’ you a 125ml glass of your choice (or 70ml of Port.)  Peter will talk you through the choices, and you can mix and match all evening, or find a favourite and stick to it.  Of course, you are free to buy an extra glass, or a bottle to share, if you use up your vouchers.  The menu looks fantastic: a four course Portuguese-accented meal from crab bisque to piri piri rib eye to pasteis de nata!

sandeman-20 crop.jpg

SATURDAY 11th May   12.00pm – 3.00pm

7. Not Just for Christmas! Port, with Peter Methven

Kirkness & Gorie, Broad Street, Kirkwall.  Free.

Port = Christmas trees and Stilton, right?  Well, yes, but so much more than that.  Drop in for a relaxed tasting through White, Rosé, Tawny (10 and 20-year-old) LBV and majestic Vintage.  All poured by Pether Methven, who’s enthusiasm for port in all its forms – including strangely delicious Port cocktails – is infectious.  Will there be cheese to match?  There’s always cheese to match (and not just Stilton.)  Grab a quick glass or try the lot…come alone or bring all your Port-loving friends.  Remember: 10% off all Port bought or ordered today.


SATURDAY 11th May   6.00pm – 8.30pm

8. The Festival Wine Fair

The Town Hall, Broad Street, Kirkwall.  £8 if booked in advance, or £12 on the door. THE TOWN HALL IS HUGE! YOU CAN JUST TURN UP, IF YOU LIKE, AND WE’LL BE HAPPY TO HAVE YOU: BUT WE PREFER YOU TO BOOK IN ADVANCE IF POSSIBLE.

Our wine fair is the highlight of the festival for many: an opportunity to mingle informally with wine-makers and wine-merchants, as well as fellow wine-lovers, sampling up to 40 top-notch wines from all corners of the world, at all prices from budget to birthday-treat.  But all you pay is £8 (or £12 on the door – to encourage you to book early.) That buys you an empty glass with which to sample to your heart’s content.  Kirkwall Town Hall is the ideal venue: lots of room to lift those elbows, chat with friends, and navigate your way to the next table. Come early and stay late or pop in at any time for a few selected highlights. Buy a bottle to take home on the night, or order at festival prices. Extra special attraction: try and buy from top local food producers: smoked cheese and fish from Hume’s Smokehouse, coffee from The Orkney Roastery, and, for the first time, fantastic bread and crackers from the Orkney Sourdough Company, which are not available from any shop, just direct from Karin by pre-order…or at her table tonight. 


SUNDAY 12th May   1.30pm - NOT 12.30 as previously posted

9. Douro Superior: Lusolunch with Peter Methven


During a buying trip to northern Portugal in 2017, Duncan was impressed by several areas, but none more than the spectacular Douro Valley.  Its steep-sloping vineyards, plunging down to the river, are a nightmare for mechanical cultivation (it’s impossible!) but a dream for lovers of high-quality, intensely-flavoured wine.  This afternoon we explore the wines of this fantastic area with Peter, who knows it like the back of his hand.  A Port Tonic to start, then two herby whites, two stellar reds (including the legendary Quinta da Leda), and a 20-Year-Old Tawny with pudding.  The imaginative renovation of The Storehouse last year makes this a stunning venue.  And the arrival of chefs Colin and Leslie – previously holders of a Michelin star at The Albannach in Lochinver – have elevated the cooking to the highest level – almost as high as the mountainous vineyards of the Douro!

Touriga Franca grapes destined for the stunning Quinta da Leda red

Touriga Franca grapes destined for the stunning Quinta da Leda red


  • For more information, or to book for any event, phone Duncan and the team on 01856 888792 or email  Places are limited at all events, so booking is essential.

  • We are encouraging everyone to book in advance for the Wine Fair on Saturday 11th by charging only £8 in advance, and £12 on the door.  This is a casual event, and you can just buy a ticket on the night, but it helps us enormously if we know how many people are coming so we can plan wine quantities. 

  • Please inform us before booking of any special dietary or wine requirements and we will liaise with the restaurant concerned to try and meet your needs.  Usually it is easy to arrange vegetarian options, or to avoid certain allergens – as long as we know in advance.  If we only hear about it on the night it can be tricky, as everyone is doing special menus specifically for us, and won’t necessarily have their usual full choice of dishes as alternatives. Even if you have told us previously what your preferences are, please remind us again, in case we have forgotten what you said last year!

  • Kirkness & Gorie is normally open 10am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, so drop in any time during the week for a chat and a browse.

  • Orders placed during the festival attract 10% discount.  We have a certain quantity of all festival wines in stock, but if demand is high and we have to bring more home it should only take a couple of weeks. 


If you have any questions beyond what is available online, do phone us on 01856 888792. 

But above all, BOOK SOON, as numbers are strictly limited at all events.


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 or two particularly memorable events from each of the 12 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 nine years on.

2011       A perfect match of food at wine at the newly-opened 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. 

2018       The Thrill of the Grill is probably our favourite name for a festival event! It described a hugely enjoyable casual BBQ at the Old Library with Jose Tirado and his organic Adobe wines. We were also delighted to welcome back Patrizia Baldini, who gave us organic Tuscan wines at Helgi’s and a luxurious lunch-time encounter with Piemonte at the Lynnfield. She also squeezed in a visit to the Italian Chapel (where no wine was poured…)

Patrizia Baldini visits Orkney’s Little Italy

Patrizia Baldini visits Orkney’s Little Italy