Wild ferment, wild yeast, wild hair, wild dogs, Gene Wilder—I could go on, but today’s most important Wild Thing happens later this summer in Scotland. That would be the Wild Wine Fair, taking place in the historic city of Edinburgh on July 29th. Winemakers from around the world and importers from around Britain will rejoin the eager masses at the Radford family’s esteemed Timberyard restaurant for community, education, and really quite a lot of very good natural wine.
The Radford family’s ethos of environmental consciousness—along with their spacious dinning room in a converted brick warehouse—makes Timberyard the perfect host for Scotland’s natural wine fair. Tickets are on sale now, and going rather fast! In advance of the inevitable sell-out I spoke with India Parry-Williams, who is organizing the Wild Wine Fair with co-owner and husband Jo Radford.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Putting on a wine fair of any sort is difficult task, but a natural wine fair is almost twice as difficult. What made you decide to organize Wild Wine Fair a second time?
India Parry-Williams: We always planned to do more than one of Wild. We had too many ideas and people we wanted to showcase. So even if last year had been a big flop, we would have done it again! As we were planning year one, we were already talking about poster ideas and music playlists for the next year. Luckily, the only challenge last year was the weather but that’s just a classic Scottish summer—wild and unpredictable… like most of our clientele!
Do you see the Wild Wine Fair impacting the wine scene in Edinburgh and the rest of the UK?
It started a conversation. We knew we were not doing anything particularly groundbreaking, we have been to enough wine fairs around the world to know that we weren’t going to get rich doing this either but that was never the point. We wanted to open up channels of communication between Scotland, suppliers, winemakers, London, Manchester… as well as within the Edinburgh restaurant scene itself. It has been great to meet so many people and get them to open their eyes to natural wine in a non-wanky, fun, convivial way. It has cemented Timberyard on the map within the UK, which is a bonus for Jo [Radford] and his family. I hope Wild has shown the importance for conversation, making pals, sharing bottles together—we were passionate to make the fair feel open to trade and the public and I really loved watching everyone last year mix and enjoy stories and tasting together from some pretty legendary wine makers.
I see you’ve added a few more importers to the fair this year. Did you reach out to them or did they hear about the success of last year’s fair?
We were lucky enough to have been over subscribed last year…so the fact we have added more is purely to keep up with the demand of importers and winemakers getting in touch with us. A few of the guys last year are unable to make it this year so it freed up some space for us to welcome some new companies and growers into the gang. We have worked hard to grow our relationships with our importers so they always work hard for us bringing great winemakers. This year we are over the moon to have Frank Cornelissen and Christian Tschida. These figures create a stir in the scene which show what we are doing at Wild is worthwhile.
A lot of my friends involved in natural wine also love natural cider. Did you feel it was important philosophically to include cider? Or was cider simply a natural addition to the fair, and not intended as a statement?
I suppose both! Jo and I both love Cider. He pours it a lot in Timberyard as part of the drink menu and pairs it with the tasting menu. At Raw last year one of my favourite things I tasted was a cider, so inviting Felix Nash from Fine Cider Co was a no-brainer. James Forbes from Little Pomona is also coming to Wild Wine Fair this year. I think his natural terroir driven ciders pair great with food. They demonstrate a relationship between natural wine and natural cider. I see so many parallels between natural cider and natural wine, so I’m excited for people to open their minds to a holistic approach to natural drinks on their whole list. As the movement of natural wine has grown it seems to have encouraged so many more natural cider projects and that’s great!
Photos by Isabel McCabe. See past Wild Wine Fair coverage on Sprudge.