Welsh Vine Trail

Reasons to be cheerful

Monday 25 May 2015

Rhesymau dros fod yn llawen*

THREE WELSH VINEYARDS have something special to celebrate in the run up to this year's Welsh Wine Week - Sat. 23rd May until Sun. 31st. May. The results of the International Wine Challenge competition 2015 have been announced and commended awards were given to Ancre Hill Estates (Monmouth) Blanc de Noirs 2010 sparkling, White Castle Vineyard’s (Llanvetherine) Regent 2013 red & Parva Farm Vineyard's (Tintern) Bwthyn Rhosyn 2013 rose & Bacchus 2013 dry white thus proving that excellent wines of all types can be produced in Wales.

Vineyards are flourishing in Wales. From Monmouthshire to Glamorgan in the South and Anglesey to Gwynedd in the North, more and more acres of vines are being planted.

One such new planting is that of Charlotte and Colin Bennett who, in 2012, planted a quarter of an acre of vines on the south side of Pydew Mountain, overlooking the Conwy Valley with the stunning backdrop of the Snowdonia National Park. This year they have extended the vineyard by an acre. They enlisted the help of volunteers (with the promise of food and wine at the end), to plant several hundred Rondo, Phoenix and Solaris vines on Bank Holiday Monday! The job was done & the workers rewarded! They have plans for more plantings next year.

During Welsh Wine Week, Charlotte and Colin will be showing visitors their vineyard & explaining their plans for the future.  

As well as being successful in competitions, Welsh wines are now being served in the House of Lords and in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London (White Castle's Phoenix). Parva Farm Vineyard made the news recently when their Tintern Parva Bacchus 2013 became the first ever Welsh wine to be sold in Marks & Spencers. It can be found in all their Welsh stores and in some of the English ones too. A M&S spokesperson said: “We hope it will demonstrate to customers the wide range of U.K. regions now producing top quality wines”.

One of only two bio-dynamic vineyards in Britain, Ancre Hill Estates at Rockfield, Monmouth will be celebrating the opening of their new winery in July, ready for this year's harvest. This will be Wales' first large scale winery and has been built to be ecologically friendly with hay-bale walls and a sedum roof. Ancre Hill specialise in sparkling wines with large plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.

Ancre Hill Estates at Monmouth will be open every day during Welsh Wine Week from 10.30am until 4.30pm. They will be giving vineyard tours (with a viewing of their state of the art, new winery) at 11.30am and 3.00pm. Free wine tastings will be available & it will be the official launch of their 2013 wines.

White Castle Vineyard is holding some special events for Welsh Wine Week:-

• Sat. 23rd May “Wonderful Welsh Wine Adventure” organised by www.foodadventure.co.uk

• Wed. 27th May White Castle wines paired with Welsh cheeses- start 19.00-contact the vineyard for details. info@whitecastlevineyard.com

• Sat. 30th May Tasting of White Castle wines at Carpaninis, Frogmore St., Abergavenny 12.00-14.00

During Welsh Wine Week, Parva Farm Vineyard at Tintern, near Chepstow will be offering free self-guided vineyard tours, free wine tastings & the chance to speak to the owners about growing vines in Wales. There will be special offers on some of their wines. They will be open every day from 11.30am until 5.00pm. 

Most of the Welsh Vineyards Association member vineyards will be open to the public during Welsh Wine Week to promote their Welsh wines. For details see the website www.winetrailwales.co.uk

*Reasons to be cheerful

The second issue of ukvine magazine sees Victor Keegan's adventures in Welsh Wine. Out July 1.


Let's Celebrate Welsh Wine Week 2015

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Let's Celebrate Welsh Wine Week 2015

Join us on a "Wonderful Welsh Wine Adventure" Saturday 23rd May.

Details: www.foodadventure.co.uk 


Easter 2015

Wednesday 01 April 2015

White Castle Vineyard

April 2015


It doesn't get more exciting than Spring.

Spring is one of the temperate seasons following winter and preceding summer.

In the vineyard Winter pruning is near completion and the growing season is about to unfold.

Easter which falls on April 5th this year is a wonderful time for getting the family together.

There's more to Easter than chocolate.....

Why not visit the vineyard where you can stroll amongst the pruned vines and enjoy the surrounding landscape. On return to the cellar door you can enjoy tasting our quality award winning Welsh wines.

Vineyard tours at this time of year allow you to see how a vine grows from its present dormant stage, once pruned, the growing season unfolds. Challenge yourself in recognising fruitful buds...

However wine tasting alone is an option, with views of the vineyard from the cellar door.

The cellar door is now open Friday, Sat, Sun and bank holidays 10 00 - 17.00hrs with a conducted  vineyard tour @ 3pm each day.



Head out on the Welsh wine trail

Tuesday 29 April 2014

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.