Rotary launches wine society

Rotary Sunrise has launched a new venture – a wine society.

The service club discovered that there are a number of wine experts in Cayman – interestingly many of them are lawyers and a fair sprinkling of accountants.

The Rotary Sunrise Wine Society will meet in members’ homes on the last Thursday evening of each month and invite an expert to speak about the wine industry in general and a chosen range of wines in particular.

Their first meeting was held 27 July. Grant Stein, who owns a vineyard in Spain, explained the basics of the industry, describing how wine is made and stored and took a lot of the mystique out of the business.

His presentation was fascinating and very educational. The 70 members and guests who were there enjoyed the tasting and the inside story of operating a vineyard.

Almost everybody has dreamed of owning a pub or a restaurant but a vineyard rarely comes into the dream. Apparently it is not easy. Like farming, the weather or plant disease can destroy crops and, with it, any hope of profit.

Grant Stein is originally from Scotland. He and his wife Anne have lived in Cayman for the last 26 years. Grant’s day job is Global Managing Partner of the law firm, Walkers. However, he moonlights as a wine producer.

Grant has been interested in wine since he was at university in Scotland, when one of his passions was making home-made wine. It was about that time he said to Anne that he only wanted to be a lawyer until he could buy his own vineyard. Although he is still a lawyer, he did manage to buy a vineyard in Spain in 1998.

However, it was just a field of vines. The designing and building of the winery came next. It was just finished for the 1999 harvest. Since then, it has been expanded and now has a production capacity of around 300,000 bottles per year. The vineyard and winery is called Estancia Piedra. Estancia is the Spanish equivalent of Chateau and Piedra means stone in Spanish, the same as Stein in German.

Estancia Piedra wines have won some of the most prestigious awards in Spain and in other countries. The estate’s Paredinas 1999 won Decanter Magazine’s 5-Star award in 2003, putting it in the top three per cent of all wines rated by the magazine that year.

Almost all the estate’s wines appear in the prestigious Proensa Golden Guide of the top 500 wines of Spain and also in the top 50 wines of Castilla y Leon.

The wines are available in Cayman at Jacques Scott outlets.

Rotary Sunrise has 72 members, mostly young professionals from Cayman and 14 other countries. They intend to use their international connection to taste and learn about wines from the countries of their members. Next meeting is South African wines and later wines from Australia and a blind tasting of premium champagnes.