The Ireland Funds WineGeese Society celebrates wine, food, and art of Irish provenance from around the world.
All activities are funded by The WineGeese Society members.
The term WineGeese is based on the story of the Wild Geese, the Irish who fled their native land after the Battle of Kinsale in the 17th century. The motto of The Ireland Funds WineGeese Society is: From Wine what Wondrous Friendship Springs. The Society celebrates wine, food, and art of Irish provenance from around the world. The philosophy of the Society is perhaps best summed up in the gracious words of the late Maurice Healy in his book ‘Stay me with Flagons’.
“What glass can engender so much kindly charity, so many acts of benevolence, so many comforting words of friendship as the glass that has been crowned by Bordeaux or Burgundy or Champagne? So give me wine. Let my meals still be occasions of good-fellowship, where pleasant conservation will help good digestion to wait on appetite and health on both. May the gleam of a glass of Claret still attract my tired eye and may I never drink unworthily; may I always remember that the gift which I am enjoying is not given to all; may I be prompted to help the less fortunate and to give thanks to the Giver of all good things for this, the most friendly of His gifts. Come, fill the glass. Your good health!”
Ireland’s History with Wine
Many people find it remarkable that Ireland should have a wine drinking tradition dating back about two thousand years. The feast was central to Celtic life. One King of Connaught is reported as constantly going from one feast of purple wine to another. The Irish Chieftain’s ennobled thirst for wine never waned over the ensuing centuries. In the 11th century the Norsemen of Limerick paid an annual tribute of a casket of red wine for every day of the year to Brian Boru.
The golden age of wine in Ireland was undoubtedly that of the 18th century when it was stated that Ireland flowed with wine as much as the land of Canaan with milk. For instance in 1740, 1,000 caskets of wine were supplied from Bordeaux to England and 4,000 to Ireland. Winegeese is the name given to the emigrant Irish families and their descendants who from the 18th century onwards engaged in the wine trade in the various countries of their adoption. Today their names and labels have become synonymous with quality on the international wine market and many of these pioneering wine families have played significant roles in the viticultural development of some of the finest wine-growing regions around the world, ranging from the Napa Valley in California to the Loire Valley in France, the Clare Valley in Australia and the Hemel En Aarde Valley in South Africa.
The Irish helped launch the wine industry in America. The oldest commercial surviving winery in California prior to Prohibition, the San Jose winery, built by the Santa Barbara Mission in the early nineteenth century, was owned by Irishman James McCaffrey from 1853 to 1900. The tradition continues with new wine properties in Bordeaux being opened by Tony Ryan at Chateau Lascombes, Lochlann Quinn at Chateau de Fieuzal and Terry Cross at Chateau de La Ligne. The WineGeese is an evocative name; it evokes a unique vinous tradition, a tradition that reveals a cultural identity that has long been the hidden jewel in the glittering Crown of the Irish diaspora.
As of July 2014, The Ireland Funds WineGeese Society has 120 regular and 71 honorary members. Honorary members are primarily the owners of vineyards we have visited, or dignitaries supporting our events.