Yes, Minister as Welsh Vineyard Association reforms

Welsh minister for natural resources and food Alun Davies launches Welsh Wine Week and the new Wine Trail Wales leaflet

Alun Davies, the Welsh minister for natural resources and food, has spearheaded efforts to promote a programme of activities and special promotions, including tours and wine tastings, planned by the vineyards to celebrate Welsh Wine Week from Saturday, May 25.

Supported by the Welsh Government, vineyard owners have produced a Wine Trail Wales leaflet to encourage wine tourism and launched a new website – – and social media pages on Facebook  and Twitter (@WinetrailWales) to raise the profile of the blossoming industry.

Wales now has vineyards spanning from Anglesey in the north to Monmouthshire and Pembrokeshire in the south, as the country is fast gaining international recognition for the quality of its wines. Wales produces around 100,000 bottles of wine a year.

Welsh Vineyard Association

To maintain the growing momentum behind the industry and increase consumer awareness, the wine producers are now banding together to re-form a Welsh Vineyards Association.

Davies says: “It is encouraging to see producers working together collectively to form a Welsh Vineyard Association. In terms of quality and potential, Welsh wine is certainly making a name for itself at home and abroad. I would encourage consumers to visit their local Vineyard during Welsh Wine Week and enjoy the fantastic produce they have to offer.”

Events and vineyard tours in Welsh Wine Week are available here.

One of the standard bearers for the industry is the multi-award winning Ancre Hill Estates at Monmouth, which is owned by Richard and Joy Morris. Last November, the vineyard won the coveted award for best white sparkling wine in the world at the Bollicine del Mondo International competition in Italy, where they were up against the best champagnes.

“It was a massive plus for Wales and the Welsh wine industry to win the award,” said Morris. “It proves that quality vineyards exist in Wales capable of growing the best quality fruit, which can be made in to world class wine.”

Decanter World Wine Awards

In this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine and Spirit Competition, announced at the London International Wine Fair on Tuesday, the vineyard also won four silver and two bronze medals.

Morris says: “We are particularly pleased with the performance of our Pinot Noir, with these results making it the best performing red wine from England and Wales in 2013. This was our first accredited biodynamic wine.”

The Morris family planted the first phase of the vineyard in April 2006, with a further plantation in April 2007 and this year. Ancre Hill Estates, which produces 15,000 bottles of wine annually, is the only UK vineyard to grow Albariño, which originate in Galicia, Northern Spain, and further planting this month extends the vines to three acres.

Work is also due to start this summer on a commercial winery, which will be fully sustainable, as it will have straw bale walls, a sedum grass roof and an ecological water treatment system.

Ancre Hill Estate visits

Ancre Hill Estates, which produces sparkling whites blanc de blanc and blanc de noir, sparkling rose, still white and rosé and Pinot Noir red, will be holding vineyard tours twice daily at 11.30am and 3pm and, during Welsh Wine Week, is offering free wine tastings.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Wales, preparations are being made for the first wine making crop of grapes at the only vineyard in Carmarthenshire. Vines were planted at Jabajak Vineyard near Llanboidy in 2008 but the grape crop has yet to be harvested for wine.

“We’re hoping that 2013 will be the year and we are going for it,” said Amanda Stuart-Robson, who owns the vineyard and a five star restaurant with 10 en-suite rooms in partnership with her sister Lorraine Lloyd and their husbands, Julian and John respectively. They have appointed viticulturist Alex Wilson to run the one hectare vineyard with its 2,000 Seyval, Phoenix, Pinot Noir, Rondo, Huxlebe and Reichensteiner vines, from which they aim to produce still white and sparkling white and rosé wines.

Stuart-Robson says: “It was my husband, Julian, who came up with the idea of a vineyard to give the business a unique selling point here in rural Carmarthenshire. We have potential to expand the vineyard in the future.

“I am told that sparkling wine originally came from this region but the Normans drove out the monks that were producing it. It would be great to bring sparkling wine back here. Our first wine will be still white and we are hoping to produce a small amount of sparkling, but it will be a while before that’s available to drink.”

The Jabajak restaurant and rooms, which overlooks the vineyard, have been converted from a traditional smallholding farmhouse and outbuildings. Originally named Banc y Llain, the smallholding was part of an estate owned by the grandparents of sixth American president John Quincy Adams and remained in the family’s ownership until 1997.

Other new vineyards under development include Llaethliw close to the National Trust’s Llanerchaeron Estate near Aberaeron and Kerry Vale Vineyard near the Welsh border at Churchstoke.

 

Picture: Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies launches Welsh Wine Week and the new Wine Trail Wales leaflet with Judith and Colin Dudley from Parva Farm Vineyard, Nicola and Robb Merchant from Whitecastle Vineyard, Joy and Richard Morris, from Ancre Hill Estates and Louise Ryan and Simon Bloor from Sugarloaf Vineyard.

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