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Vineyards raise a glass for Welsh Wine Week

Welsh Vineyard Association prepare for Welsh Wine Week: There has been a surge in popularity of Welsh wine both locally and internationally

AT THE END of the month, vineyards across Wales will be raising a glass of wine to celebrate Welsh Wine Week, which is taking place between Saturday (May 28) and Sunday June 5.

The worldwide reputation of Welsh vineyards is flourishing, with many becoming considerably more renowned for their wine-producing excellence.

There are currently 17 vineyards in Wales, 13 of which are members of the Welsh Vineyard Association (WVA).

The newest addition to Wales’ vineyards is the Gwinllan Conwy in North Viniculture in Wales in which business is ‘booming’.

Robb Merchant, Owner of the White Castle Vineyard in Abergavenny and newly instated Chairman of the WVA, planted his first vines with his wife Nicola in 2009. He said he was amazed at how his new enterprise has taken off in the past seven years.

Robb said: “We harvested our first grapes in 2011 and, so far, the business has far exceeded anything we anticipated.

“There are now vineyards right across Wales, from north to south to east to west, and many offer tours and tasting during the year. We hope Welsh Wine Week will encourage more people to visit them.

“Traditionally, Wales may not have been viewed as a wineproducing country, but the past 15 years or so have seen huge strides in the quality and quantity.

“I’m sure visitors will be surprised by the variety of flavours produced in Wales – there is a flavour for everyone.

“We are also looking forward to working with the National Eisteddfod when it comes to Abergavenny in August.”

Robb and Nicola also say that they are looking forward to welcoming visitors to their vineyard for Welsh Wine Week and, like many other WVA members, they will be offering special tours, tastings and offers.

Welsh wine is enjoying a fruitful time, with a surge in success both at home and on the international scene.

A number of wines have successfully competed with their continental counterparts on the global stage, such as Ancre Hill Estates whose 2008 vintage was voted best sparkling wine in the world at the Bollicine del Mondo International Competition in Italy in 2012.

Along with increasing critical appreciation and commercial success, interest in producing wine in Wales is growing too with a number of new vineyards being planted in recent years.

The last decade has seen a growth in the number of vineyards in Wales and a surge in production. Welsh vineyards now produce around 100,000 bottles of wine each year, and a number of vineyards are currently expanding in acreage and planting new vines.

Among them are Llaethliw near Aberaeron, where owners Richard and Siw Evans have planted an additional eight and a half acres, and biodynamic producer Ancre Hill has added a further 11 acres.

Also after a period of dormancy, Bryn Ceiliog Vineyard at Leckwith in the Vale of Glamorgan will be back in production this year.

While Tintern-based vineyard, Parva Farm will be supplying Marks and Spencer again this year with its Tintern Parva Bacchus 2014 dry white wine.

Wales will further cement its position as a burgeoning wine producing region when it hosts the UK wine industry’s annual national awards – the English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition.

The judging will take place at Llanerch Vineyard next month between Wednesday June 22 and Friday June 24. This will mark the first time the competition has been held in Wales.

“Welsh wine really is among the best in the world,” Robb concluded, “It is an exciting time for Welsh vineyards, and we hope Welsh Wine Week will help bring our wines to the attention of an even wider audience.”

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Dayne Stone

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