SugarBird wine shop and bar opened in Aberdeen in late August. Owners Ruth and Alex Grahame have returned to the city after spending five years running their restaurant in South Africa.
Native Aberdonian Ruth explains the couple previously owned a restaurant in south Aberdeen before moving to Cape Town where they “discovered the amazing wines of South Africa. We were wine drinkers and we’d bought wine for our restaurant before, but since immersing ourselves in that environment, visiting many, many farms and getting to know a lot of the winemakers, our knowledge really grew,” she says.
About 65% of the range is South African. “Our restaurant probably has the largest Cap Classique listing in the western Cape,” says Ruth, “so we are doing a really big focus on those in the shop too.
“There was an initiative in South Africa to help save restaurants during lockdown and De Grendel in Durbanville donated 300 cases to us. Now we stock their full range in the shop and we will continue to support them, the way they have supported us.”
During the summer, while Ruth was project-managing the refit, Alex worked as the head chef at Balmoral Castle, launching its new restaurant. As a result of that connection SugarBird has an exclusive on the Balmoral products including a whisky and a gin. “It’s an extra add-on, as they make great gifts,” says Ruth. “But we’re going to focus on the wine.”
Once the business is established, they will be direct importing and already have a list of around 15 South African producers that they want to work with. But for now, the focus is on building the e-commerce site and developing their wine club.
“We’re in an area with a real neighbourhood feel,” says Ruth. “It’s great to be back and it’s been really well received. Without fail everyone is saying that this is what they wanted.”