Wine Geese and Beyond: Irish Diaspora Excelling in the World's Top Wine Regions
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Wine Geese and Beyond: Irish Diaspora Excelling in the World’s Top Wine Regions

Ireland’s Wine Geese is derived from the flight of the Wild Geese, when 14,000 Catholic Jacobite soldiers fled Ireland for France for political and economic reasons after their defeat at the 1690 Battle of the Boyne and the Treaty of Limerick in 1691.

They had supported England’s Catholic King James against the victorious Protestant Dutch Prince William of Orange who vied for the monarchy in England. Following punitive banishments and land confiscations, two more waves of emigrants left Ireland’s shores for Bordeaux and Nantes in France in 1715 and 1745.  Some traveled on French ships smuggling wine into the west coast of Ireland and listed on the ships’ manifests as “wild geese”.

Many soldiers and their immediate descendants flourished as merchants, traders and later owning properties, estates and vineyards around the city’s port of Bordeaux. Ireland was no stranger to Bordeaux wines. In 1739, while England imported 1,000 tons of the region’s wine and Scotland 2,500 tons, Ireland imported 4,000 tons, possibly because Scotland and Ireland imposed much lower duties than England.

Fourteen Chateaux’ vineyards in Bordeaux bear an Irish name including Phelan-Segur, Boyd-Cantenac, Leoville-Barton, Langoa-Barton, Kirwan, MacCarthy-Moula, Lynch-Bages, Pontac-Lynch, Lynch-Moussas, Dillon and Clarke.

Wine Geese and Beyond: Irish Diaspora Excelling in the World's Top Wine Regions

Many more vineyards had an Irish owner or connection, Ducru-Beaucaillou and Lascombes by William Johnson, Dauzac the birthplace of Thomas Michael’s Lynch’s son, the Count Jean Baptiste Lynch, Mayor of Bordeaux.  Hennessy distilled wine into brandy at Cognac and it remains a premium brand well over 200 years later.

The Irish were amongst the most innovative and creative pioneers of viticulture in Bordeaux in the 18th century. Other regions saw the high profile presence of the Irish Wine Geese. MacMahon owned vineyard in Burgundy, the Domaine du Duc de Magenta and he was elected President of France 1873-75 and again in 1875-1879.

Today, the Irish influence on vineyards globally continues the pioneering tradition. The following is a list of wines and wineries with an Irish connection…


Domaine la Sarabande

Domaine la Sarabande Wine StoryEstablished by Paul and Isla Gordon who arrived in France in 2009 and became the first Irish/Australian producers of wine in the region.  They produce vegan/vegetarian-friendly wines:


Domaine la Sarabande Faugere, 2012, Southern France 13.5% ABV

A blend of 60% Grenache, with Carignan and Syrah.

€21 at Mitchell & Son, CHQ, IFSC and Glasthule

Domaine Sainte Rose

Charles Simpson is Co-Owner/Manager/Winemaker at Domaine Sainte Rose in Southern France and also Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham, Kent.

His father is from a large Irish farming family in Moneymore (Derry) and his mother is from Belfast.  Domaine Sainte Rose also had 12 Irish investors (6 from Northern Ireland and 6 from Ireland) in their business for the first 5 years.  They were called the Irish Apostles.

Available online:

Domaine Gayda

Domaine GaydaLocated in the Languedoc and part-owned by Tim Ford who can trace the origins of his name back to Co. Cork where his family were once Ó Fuartháin, a name meaning “descendant of Fuarthán”.

In Gaelic, fuarathán (“cold little ford”), led the name to be erroneously anglicised to “Ford”.

The Ford family left Ireland for Norfolk in the late 1840’s during the famine.

Available online:

Chateau Bellevue La Forêt

It was established in 2008 by Philip Grant an 112ha estate at Fronton in South West France.  A committed Francophile, Philip had long time dreamed of owning his own wine estate. As is traditional in Fronton, the majority of the planting is the local Negrette, although there are also plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Gamay.

Chateau Bellevue La Forêt RoséChateau Bellevue La Forêt Rosé, 2015/2016

Fronton – France 12.5% ABV

€16.99 available in Dublin at: Donnybrook Fair; Vintry Rathgar; Morton’s Ranelagh; D-Six Harold’s Cross; Molloy’s Stores; Higgin’s, Clonskeagh; Baggot Street Wines; Gibney’s, Malahide; Savage’s and The Load Mayor, Swords; The Commet, Whitehall ; The Goose, Druncondra;  Shiels Yellowwalls, Malaide; McHughes Malaide & Kilbarick; Martin’s, Fairview; The CoachHouse, Ballinteer; Nector Wines, Sandyford Village; DrinkStore Stoneybatter and Thomas’s. Foxrock.  Nationwide: selected Next Doors Store; O’Donovan’s Cork citywide; 1601 Cork; Paul’s Donegal; Morton’s and Cambridge’s Galway.


Château de Fieuzal

L'Abeille de Fieuzal Rouge 2012, Pessac-Leognan AOPChâteau de Fieuzal’s current owner is Lochlann Quinn, when chairman of Allied Irish Banks purchased Chateau de Fieuzal in 2001 from another bank.

L’Abeille de Fieuzal Rouge 2012

Pessac-Leognan AOP, Bordeaux – 13% ABV

Classic trinity blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Mitchell & Son, CHQ, IFSC and Glasthule

Château Clarke

Its name derives from its founder, Tobie Clarke from County Down who bought the wine estate in Listrac in the Medoc in the 1770s and his descendants still reside in Bordeaux. Currently owned by Baron Edmond de Rothschild since 1979.

2009 Château ClarkeChâteau Clarke’s 2006 and 2010, Listrac-Médoc AOP, Bordeaux 13.5% ABV

Unusually made mostly with Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.

€36 and €41 respectively (also available in magnum) from Mitchell & Son, CHQ Building, IFSC, 54 Glasthule Road, Sandycove and at Avoca Handweaver’s, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow, online: also, McCabe’s, Blackrock; Fresh at, Smithfield, Grand Canal Quay and Camden Street. Myles Doyle, Gorey; O’Connor’s Next Door, Wicklow and Country Choice, Nenagh

Château Lynch Bages

Thomas Lynch was a descendant of the Tribes of Galway. His father John emigrated in 1691 to Bordeaux, inherited an estate in the village of Bages through his wife, Elizabeth in 1749.

Château Lynch Bages, Pauillac AOPChâteau Lynch Bages

Pauillac AOP, Haut-Médoc

Chiefly Cabernet Sauvignon with 23% Merlot and a 5% combined of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Available Mitchell & Son IFSC and Sandycove

Château Brande Bergere

The estate was founded at the end of the 18th century by the O’Byrne family, who had left Ireland in the 17th century as one of the Wild Geese. They became well known and prosperous, with one of them being a member of the Parliament of Bordeaux. When Richard O’Byrne, younger son of the family and a priest, happened to be in charge of the nearby church of Chamadelle, the O’Byrne family acquired a piece of land called Brande-Bergère for him.

chateau-brande-bergere-cuvee-obyrneChâteau Brande Bergere Cuvée O’Byrne

Bordeaux Superieur AOP, France

When the Dalibot family acquired Château Brande-Bergère in 1997 they decided to name their premium wine from older vines Cuvée O’Byrne in memory of the founders of the estate.

A really good Bordeaux Superieur that delivers above its generic appellation.

€21.95 at The Grapevine, Dalkey, Co. Dublin

Chateau Kirwan

His descendants regained the property but sold it in 1802.  Visited by Thomas Jefferson when American Ambassador to France in the 1770s and write in his diary how impressed he was by the wines of “Quirouen”.

Les Charmes de Kirwan 2012Les Charmes de Kirwan 2012

Margaux AOP, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux 13% ABV

Estate formally owned by Mark Kirwan who inherited it from his father-in-law but was guillotined and lost his property during the French revolution.

€36.95 at O’Brien’s wine shops nationwide and

Michel Lynch Organic 2014Michel Lynch Organic 2014

Bordeaux AOP – 12.55 ABV

Wine named after the former 18th century Lynch-Bages owner Michel Lynch.

€15.95 at O’Brien’s wine shops nationwide and

Château Leoville BartonChâteau Leoville Barton

Saint-Julien AOP, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France

Principally Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Available Mitchell & Son IFSC and Sandycove



Cullen Mangan 2013Cullen Mangan, Margaret River, Western Australia 12.5% ABV

Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen first planted the vineyards in 1966 based on the Bordeaux varieties. They are survived by their daughter Vanya, chief winemaker.

Made with nearly equal amounts of organically and biodynamically grown Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot.

€30.00 at Mitchell & Son IFSC and Sandycove

Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2016Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2016, Australia 12.7% ABV

Stephanie Toole’s story: “My great grandmother arrived in Dunedin New Zealand on the “Surat” at the age of 19 (alone) on the 1st January 1874.  The captain of the ship was drunk and ran aground on a reef. All the passengers were saved but salvagers quickly impounded the ship and its cargo and all passengers’ luggage was sold.  So there they were, having sailed around the world, narrowly escaping losing their lives and arriving with nothing in the world. I am not sure how and when she married my great grandfather who was a Healy from near the Ring of Kerry.”

€28.99 64 Wine, Glasthule and Baggot Street Wines

Clonakilla Hilltops Tim Kirk’s story: “Clonakilla means ‘meadow of the church’ in Gaelic and is the name of my great-grandfather’s farm in County Clare.  In 1971, my father, Dr John Kirk planted the Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area.”

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2015Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2015

Australia 14.5% ABV – €34.99

Dublin at 64 Wine, Glasthule; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Blackrock Cellar; Grapevine, Dalkey; Mitchell & Son, IFSC and Glasthule; Power & Co., Lucan. La Touche, Greystones; Cabot & Co., Westport and



Forrest EstateForrest Estate is co-owned and run by Dr Brigid Forrest (Moriarty). She is the granddaughter of Tom Moriarty who emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1900’s. Tom’s family had a farm in Castlecove, Co Kerry and he married Mary O’Keefe of Farranfore, Co Kerry before they emigrated. The Moriarty clan have maintained close links between New Zealand and Ireland and the wider family diaspora in the Boston area.

Available online:

Seifried EstateSeifried Estate, Nelson, New Zealand

Herman Seifried’s wife, Agnes are regular visitors to Ireland and Agnes’ grandmother came from Donegal.

Herman, a native of Austria champions the aromatic whites, Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, Pinot Gris and with a bright and concentrated character we expect from New Zealand.

Available from


Cline CellarsCline Cellars, owned by Nancy Cline.

Both her grandfathers were from Ireland, Gregory Laughlin from County Cork and Bunting from Lurgan, Co. Armagh.

Both emigrated around 1878 and settled, respectively in Berkley California and Kansas City.

Available online:


RustenbergRustenberg, Elizabeth Montgomery, a nurse from Co. Monaghan arrived in South Africa in 1899 and worked in the prisoner camps set up by the British during the Boer War.

After the war ended in 1902 she married Ernest Barlow. Their son, Peter bought Rustenberg in 1941 which is now run by their grandson Simon, and great-grandson Murray.

Available online:

Doran Family Vineyards, Paarl, Voor Paardberg, South Africa

Irishman, Edwin Doran first started visiting South Africa in the early 90’s when his successful school sports travel business ran their first rugby tour to Wynberg Boys High School. There he met André Badenhorst and the two men instantly found common ground over their shared love of rugby and wine. In 2008, at the age of 64 when most people are planning their retirement, he sold his company and together he and André bought a 400 acre wine farm in the Voor Paardeberg, bordering the Swartland.

The combination of opportunities afforded by the new cellar, André’s expertise and Edwin’s business acumen has meant that Doran Vineyards (est. 2010) has been able to entice accomplished young winemaker, Martin Lamprecht, away from the Rhône Valley back to his South African roots.

Incipio 2014, Doran VineyardsIncipio 2014, Doran Vineyards

14% ABV – €29.95

Made from Shiraz and Chenin Blanc, inspired by a French winemaking technique typical to the Northern Rhône‘s Côte Rôti where Syrah is co-fermented with Viognier.

Available at Hole in the Wall, Phoenix Park; Clontarf Wines; Michael’s Wine & Food, Mount Merrion; Brown’s Vineyard, Portlaoise and


Liam Campbell

Liam Campbell is one of Ireland’s most experienced wine writers. His work has been featured in the pages of numerous publications, most recently as the Wine & Drinks Editor for The Irish Independent, as well as in Irish Homes, Easy Food and The Dubliner magazines.

Besides writing, his involvement in the world of wine goes deeper: he’s an approved WSET educator and holder of a WSET Diploma, Diploma in Craft Beer & Cider, and he has worked as judge in international wine competitions and as a wine consultant.



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