Welsh Vine Trail


Sunday 10 December 2017

PRESS RELEASE                                                                        8th DECEMBER 2017



This weekend 9th & 10th December sees the launch of Wales first fortified wine – ‘1581’ - by award-winning Monmouthshire vineyard White Castle.

The result of four years of planning by White Castle’s owners Robb and Nicola Merchant, the new alcoholic drink is similar in style to Port.

The grapes are harvested and aged in the same way as Port and the result is a drink with an abv (alcohol by volume) of 19%.

Says Robb “Since we’ve had the vineyard it has always been a dream of ours to create a Welsh fortified wine. To make it you have to have a quality grape and were just waiting for the right harvest and volume to be able to do it.”

Adds Robb, who is also chairman of the Welsh Vineyards Association, “The quantity of grapes harvested in 2014 allowed us to put aside a 225-litre barrel of Regent wine with which to make our Welsh fortified wine. The result is drink that is light in texture, very fruity, and reflects what we do at White Castle.”

Available as a limited edition, a barrel has now been put away after each harvest and stored at the Three Choirs winery in Newent, which produces White Castle’s wines.

1581 joins White Castle’s range  of red, white, rose, and sparkling wine which since the vineyard’s first harvest in 2011 have reaped numerous national wine awards.

The new beverage has close links to the area’s heritage and takes its name - 1581 – from a grade II* listed Tudor barn at the vineyard, which is situated in the village of Llanvetherine near Abergavenny and Monmouth.

Its future once in doubt, Robb and Nicola worked with local building preservation charity - The Village Alive Trust, to save the building and with funding from Cadw and the Heritage Lottery Fund the Croft Barn has been restored.

The barn is now used for a variety of events including, open days and weddings, and for talks and courses about viticulture (the science of grapes and their culture).

Says Robb, “It is a wonderful building, and it is an integral part of our vineyard, so it was natural that we took the date of its construction for the name of our Welsh fortified wine. It has been an important building in the locality for centuries, and was featured by Lord Raglan in his book on ancient buildings in Monmouthshire.”

White Castle has been helped with  its ventures by Cywain – a project which supports the development of new markets for growth orientated businesses in the agri-food sector.

Says Robb, “Cywain have been with us since we began, they have helped us in a variety of ways including branding. It is very much a two-way relationship and they have been fantastic.”

Says Cywain Development Manager, Rolant Tomos, "It’s been a privilege to see how White Castle have developed and the business grown in recent years. Launching 1581 will be another great leap for the business as it expands its product offering.”


Welsh Wine Competition 2017

Tuesday 14 November 2017


The growing success of Wales as a wine producing country was celebrated at the Welsh
Vineyards Association’s (WVA) annual wine competition.

Held at Llanerch Vineyard at Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan, the competition
saw over 50 wines entered by nine vineyards ranging from north to south

Split into five classes, 21 wines were awarded Bronze, doubling last year’s
achievement. Five gained Silver and this year, 3 wines were awarded Gold.  The best wine in each class also received a
trophy: Whjte - White Castle Vineyard’s ‘Siegerrebe  GOLD’; Rosé - Llaethliw Vineyard BRONZE; Red
– White Castle’s Rondo BRONZE; Sparkling – Tintern Parva Vineyard’s ‘Dathlu’
GOLD ; Sparkling Rosé -  Llanerch GOLD,  with the 'The Thomas Davies Memorial Trophy'
also being given to Llanerch Vineyard’s ‘Cariad Blush’ as overall Wine of the

The expert judging panel was comprised of Linda Johnson-Bell: wine
judge, author, and founder of The Wine and Climate Change Institute; Sue
Tolson: wine educator, judge and editor of the popular website, WineSofa.eu and
Dylan Rowlands: Welsh radio and TV personality, co-author and owner of the wine
merchant’s Gwin Dylanwad Wine.

The climax of the competition was the awards dinner, which was televised on S4C
and attended by the event’s sponsors and David Morris, the Welsh Government’s
Food and Drink representative.

WVA Chairman, Robb Merchant said: “Welsh wine-making has increased 70% over the
last decade as production soars to more than 100,000 bottles a year. The
interest in Welsh Wines is growing as the quality improves. The awards are
judged to international standards and those vineyards who have won awards can
very proud of their achievement. I would also like to thank the sponsors and
organising team who have worked hard to raise the profile of Welsh Wines.”

 2017 Award winners were as follows:


Llanerch, Cariad Dry   2013   

White Castle, Gwin Gwyn 2016     

Tintern Parva, Bacchanlia 2016         

Pant Du, Gwin gwyn    2016    

Llanerch, Cariad Dry White 2015       

Montgomery, Solaris 2016

Conwy, Pydew 2016

Sugarloaf, Calon Lan   2016

Lleathliw, White  2016

Tintern Parva, Afon Gwy 2015

Llanerch, Cariad Medium Dry 2013

Llanerch, Cariad Rosé  2015

Lleathliw, Rosé  2016

Tntern Parva, Bwthyn Rhosyn 2015

Lleathliw, Red 2015

Tntern Parva, Ty Coch 2016

Pant Du, Gwin Coch    2016

White Castle, Rondo   2015 

Conwy, Pefriog 2015

Tntern Parva, Dathliad Rosé  2010

Llanerch, Cariad  Blush 2014


Tintern Parva,  Baccus  2015

Conwy, Solaris 2016

Llanerch, Cariad Medium Dry 2016

Llanerch, Cariad White 2012  

Glyndwr Rose  2015


White Castle, Siegerrebe  2016

Tintern Parva, Dathliad 2013

Llanerch, Cariad Blush 2011


Welsh Wine Competition 2017

Sunday 22 October 2017
Trophies  WVA 2016


October 18, 2017

2017 WELSH WINE AWARDS – 7th November

with Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Environment
and Rural Affairs

Vale of Glamorgan – This year’s Welsh Vineyard
Association’s annual awards will again be held at Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan, with Special
Guest, Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for
Environment and Rural Affairs. The AM will be accompanied by Dorian Davies, the
new Food and Drink representative.

Welsh wine-making has increased 70
per cent over the past decade as production soars to more than 100,000 bottles
a year. (Welsh Wine is the Toast of Bordeaux, The Telegraph, May 2016).

 “The interest in Welsh
Wines is growing as the quality improves and production is set to double by
2020.” – Robb
Merchant, WVA Chairman.

The expert judging panel is
comprised of Linda Johnson-Bell, wine judge, author, and founder of The Wine and Climate Change Institute, Sue Tolson, wine
educator, judge and editor of the popular website, WineSofa.eu, and Dylan Rowlands, Welsh radio and
TV personality, co-author and owner of the award-winning wine merchant and bar,
Dylanwad. They will be tasting over
40 wines from 10 vineyards.

This year’s event will
have the added addition of a TRADE & PRESS tasting (14.00 – 16.00).

For more information about
the Awards, the TRADE & PRESS tasting or the Welsh Vineyards Association, please
contact Robb Merchant at 01873 821 443 or at info@whitecastlevineyard.com.

AGM 2017

Wednesday 12 April 2017

The Welsh Vineyard Association held their AGM 2017 at the home of Andrew & Fiona Mounsey they are planting a new vineyard on 4th May and will be known as Velfry Wines, Clare & Gilbert Viader were also welcomed in to the association as new members they have taken over the former Wernddu vineyard which will now be know as Pen-y-Clawdd Vineyard.

following the were presentations from Alice Lampard Agrisgop, Norma Barry Food and Drink Wales - Welsh Wine Ambassador & Susie Abson Welsh Government Food and Drink. 


White Castle Review of 2013

Sunday 12 January 2014
View of White Castle Vineyard 2013

Time to reflect on 2013.....

The year began with a snow fall, zero and minus temperatures the vineyard  looked like "A Winter Wonderland" whilst the vines lay dormant

January saw the invention of "smokey joe" in readiness for winter pruning, patent by Robb himself.

February 2013 we spent weeks winter pruning in readiness for the growing season, occasional snow flurries as we pruned.

March 2013 we tasted the fruits if our labour from harvest 2012 along with our Sparkling Rose from harvest 2011 which lay rested on its lees.

April 2013 we lift red 5.5 miles / 8750 metre of mulch that surrounded the vines since planting in 2009.

May 2013. Spring had sprung. Bud burst.

June 2013. 25th May - 2nd June Welsh Wine Week, an annual event.

An opportunity to walk the vineyard and meet the passionate owners.

June 2013 was the milestone when Welsh Vineyards came together and formed A Welsh Vineyard. Association and Wine Trail Wales.

Welsh wine week we released our 2nd vintage wines Pinot Noir and Rondo.

July 2013. 6th July we had our first flowering within the Rondo grape variety.

August is a month of canopy management. Flowering complete fruit set follows.

September is again canopy management to allow the grapes to bask in the sunshine, veraison well and truly established.

October 31st saw the last harvest of grapes from the vineyard. Vendange  complete for another year. 2013 hoping to be a vintage to remember.

Great Grape News: Our Rondo 2012 gained a bronze award at The Welsh Vineyard Association Inaugural Competition 28th October.

November. Finally finished washing all those picking crates too many to count!!!

December 2013. Our Festive Weekend At The Cellar Door saw the release of our 1st Sparkling Wine Vintage 2011.

Live Christmas tipples....Robb and I were invited to join Jamie Owen at BBC Wales radio for a live interview on Sunday 8th December. What A Year That Was......2013



Sunday 12 January 2014

Report written by James Graham of UKVINE

A delightful lunch and award ceremony was staged on Monday as the Welsh

vineyard industry announced it had arrived on the wine scene as a stand-alone part of the wider UK industry.

And the silver wear was accompanied by a call from the re-formed Welsh Vineyard Association (WVA) that “Welsh wine needs you” made by WVA chairman Richard Morris at the event.

He says: “We want to attract everyone in the Welsh wine industry – growers, retail, enthusiast – anyone who has an interest in the subject. Membership is welcome to join at just £20, which will fund our work promoting Welsh wine.”


The WVA wine competition 2013 was staged before the lunch, when three judges, selected for their wine business standing, worked through 35 wines in three classes – Still white and Still Rose; Red wine; and Sparkling White and Sparkling rose – ultimately awarding one gold, five silver and 15 bronze medals.

Head judge, Decanter World Wine Award senior judge and Michelin starred chef, Roger Jones, was keen to point out that the wines were judged to the “highest international standards” and that no favour was shown, despite the Welshness of the judging panel. The wines were blind tasted and marked using the rigorous Decanter World Wine Awards format.

Joining Jones on the panel were Bill Gunn, former managing director of Champagne producer Pol Roger, and Julie Bell from the Felin Fach Griffin near
Brecon, winner of the Best Pub Wine List of the Year award at the 2012 Imbibeawards.

Award winners

The one gold, five silver and 15 bronze medals were awarded as below:


White and Sparkling Rose  
Ancre Hill Sparkling Rose  2009


White and Sparkling Rose
Tintern Pava   Bacchus    2011
Tintern Pava Bwthyn Rose  2011

Red Wine
Ancre Hill Pinot Noir  2009
Ancre Hill Pinot Noir  2011     

White and Sparkling Rose
Ancre Hill Sparkling White  2008


White and Still Rose 
Ancre Hill  Chardonnay  2010
Pant Du Rose  2012             
Tintern Pava Sir Fynwy  2012              
Wernddu White  2011
Sugarloaf Abergavenny  2011        
Red Wine

White castle Rondo  2012            
Tintern Pava Ty Coch  2011

 Sparkling White and Sparkling Rose
Wernddu Sparkling  2007
Glyndwr White Brut  2009    
Ancre Hill Sparkling Pinot Noir/ Seyval Blanc  2008
Sugerloaf  Rhosyn  2007
Llanerch Sparkling Brut  2011
Ancre Hill Sparkling White  2009
Tintern Pava Dathliad White  2006
Meadowview Gwyn-y-Fro White  2010

The competition and lunch was held at Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan, itself in the midst of an ambitious expansion to grow its restaurant
and holiday business. The day was hosted by Ryan Davies, Llanerch vineyard director.

Wales now boasts 17 vineyards, the majority of which have already joined the WVA.

“Welsh wines are definitely gaining in stature and reputation, and Wales is now producing wine to rival anything that can be found anywhere in the
world,” said WVA chairman Richard Morris, who with his wife Joy runs the multi-award winning Ancre Hill Estates vineyard near Monmouth, one of only two biodynamic vineyards in the UK.

Morris says: “It is incredibly important we as an Association and producers move forward. We hope to attract non vineyard members too – people
interested in wine and Welsh food and drink – and our aim is for the WVA annual competition to become an international event with Welsh and international classes.”

Vineyards in Wales

More than 20 different grape varieties are grown in Wales with Welsh vineyards producing around 100,000 bottles of wine each year.

The Romans and French monks are said to have introduced wine to Britain, but it was Lord Bute who is credited with planting Wales’ first commercial
vineyard in 1875 at Castell Coch near Cardiff. In recent years Welsh wine has taken centre stage at major political events, most notably when Britain held the Presidency of the European Union which saw Tintern Parva from Monmouthshire served at the European Summit meeting, and wines from the Vale of Glamorgan’s Glyndwr Vineyard are served in the House of Lords’ and have graced European State banquets.