A Kenyan Wine Mystery: Whatever Happened to Richard Leakey’s Il Masin?

I’m working on a project about wine in Africa and I need some help. Does anyone know if Il Masin in Kenya is still making wine? Here’s the label of their 2005 Pinot Noir. I can find references to Il Masin on the internet up until about 2012 and then … nothing. Are they still around?

Il Masin is interesting in many respects starting with the basics: Pinot Noir in Kenya? Really? But the fascinating thing for me is who is or was behind the project: paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey! 

Here’s a link to the blog that Leakey’s daughter (and his winery partner) Louise maintained until 2011. Whatever happened to Il Masin? Please use the comments function below to leave a message if you have any information.

Thanks in advance for your help!

12 responses

  1. Hi: You should be able to get Richard’s contact details from http://www.turkanabasin.org/about/contact/ (which is run by Richard and his family). The web site mentions gardening activities support by the organisation but nothing about wine. Wine spectator interview him earlier this year http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/Wine-Talk-Richard-Leakey_2452 There is recent reference to Richard Leakey (and wine growing) at https://medium.com/@WTTC/a-conversation-with-anti-poaching-legend-richard-leakey-73dd9c67b44d#.75f5ie3s3 and http://www.royalafricansafaris.com/richardleakey.html Hope this helps, Ray ___________________ Raymond Mallon raymallon@gmail.com http://www.raymondmallon.com Mobile +84 903 404949


  2. Mike,

    I have a friend who is/was a winemaker living and working in Kenya. I visited the vineyards he managed in Kenya, and he came up to Ethiopia to evaluate vineyard establishment there. His name is James Farquharson and is copied.

    James – long long time. We should catch up! This is the longest I haven ’t been in Kenya, over 2 years, so that is why you have not heard from me. I may do an East Africa visit early in ’16. Please help Mike with this question.

    Cheers Ayele

  3. Mike, here’s a feasibility study i did in 2009. The data in here is dated, but could be of use general use to you. Especially the historical context and the nationalization of the Greek and Italian wineries in 1974.

    Castel just started bottling a couple of years ago on new vines.

    Oddly enough a UC Davis PhD who had a love for vines has done extensive research on which varieties do well and there have been long term studies – I believe 11 varieties were were approved/released for Ethiopia

    I know other in Stelenbosch that could help you more, if have specific questions…although it’s been a while since I’ve been in touch.


  4. I believe the Leaky wine is still in production. I live and grow apples on Ngong Hills and will sometime be collecting cuttings for my farm from Louisa Leaky.

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