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    Person picking grapes in a field, clouds and trees

    Why Not Welsh Wine?

    To celebrate St. David’s Day why not open a bottle of fizz to celebrate? Maybe even a Welsh fizz? 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have even thought of this but in the past decade we’ve seen a rapid development in the wine scene here in Wales, both in quality and in drinkability. We are seeing more and more Welsh vineyards producing extremely good wine. Many are winning awards e.g. White Castle Vineyard in Monmouthshire and Conwy vineyards.

    What grapes are used?

    To battle the harsh and unpredictable climate in Wales, some selected species of grapes must be selected to withstand fungal disease, rot and frost. Solaris is a common grape used all over Wales due to its resilience. It produces aromatic wines with hints of gooseberry, elderflower and citrus fruits that are complemented by good acidity and freshness. Those of you who like a good French Sauvignon Blanc would love this zingy and fresh grape variety.

    A vineyard in Wales
    Solaris grape picking at Gwinllan Llaethliw Vineyard, Aberaeron

    We are always on the lookout and researching new and interesting Welsh wines and are sampling new local vineyards even as close as Pwllheli! More natural and experimental wines are also being produced in the south of Wales, with use of barrel ageing and fermentation processes using ambient yeasts. Velfrey Vineyard in Pembrokshire produce a wine named, simply, ‘Naturiol’ made  with Seyval Blanc grapes “naturally fermented meaning no added yeast or sugar, half in stainless steel and half in old oak barrels that were previously used for white Bordeaux which lends the gentle smoky flavour.” [1] Only 7% in alcohol, this wine is super zesty and interesting and perfect for those in search for low alcohol alternatives but with plenty of oomph.

    [1] Velfrey Wines, Velfrey Vineyard, Naturiol, Seyval Blanc

    Welsh Sparkling Wine

    A good array of traditional method (Champagne method) sparkling wines are also being produced. Montgomery Vineyard sparkling wines are among a very popular selection, ranging from crisp and dry to sweet and fruity. The Seyval Blanc is a particular favourite, expressing aromas of pear drops, crisp green apples and a floral touch. See for yourself and taste this exciting wine from the comfort of your own home with a virtual tasting hosted by Llinos and Dylan on the 1st of March. For more information follow the link: Montgomery Virtual Tasting


    Welsh wine from Llaethliw

    Welsh Wines

    Some frequent questions about Welsh Wines

    When customers visit our shop they are often surprised by the fact that there are Welsh wines. It is unusual really because we are on the cusp of the northern hemisphere limit for successfully growing wine grapes for commercial use. However, Welsh wines are increasing in number every year and there are some 40 Welsh vineyards by now. You will see several on our shelves, two being Montgomery and Llaethliw.

    Rose, Red and White Welsh wines from Llaethliw

    Where can grapes for Welsh wines be grown?

    As well as finding the correct soil composition the most important fact is probably the aspect of the vineyard. A nice south facing slope is important so that the grapes catch as much of that ripening sun as possible in a cooler climate. One of the greatest problems a grape grower will face is the unpredictable weather. A late frost can decimate your crop and winds can destroy the vine itself. Hailstones or heavy rain can disrupt flowering and of course, damp conditions can encourage mould. So grape growing in Wales has its challenges.

    Vale Vineyard Welsh wine
    Gwinllan Y Dyffryn white / Vale Vineyard

    Which grapes are used for Welsh wines?

    If we take the above into account, then choosing grapes that are early ripening and disease resistant is wise. There are clones of grape varieties that can answer these needs. Solaris and Rondo are very popular varieties in Wales. The white is a fresh and dry fruity style that is probably comparable to a Sauvignon Blanc. Rondo, the red produces a light juicy fruit wine. There is a Pinot Noir clone (Précoce) which does very well in Wales (White Castle’s Gold Medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards for example) and many growers choose to grow this variety. 

    What kind of wine can I expect from Wales?

    An ever growing variety is the answer. When you see that Ancre Hill have grown Albariño after studying the similarities in climate between Galicia and Monmouth it’s clear that the vision is there. White Castle Vineyard has also ventured with Cabernet Franc (and I see on social media that they’re plotting for something new here too!) It’s patently obvious that the skill and appetite to do something different is growing in Welsh wine makers. They’re doing their research and investigating different possibilities: Gwinllan Y Dyffryn planted a grape called Divico to try and achieve a more robust style of red and it’s also disease resistant. So we can see that we are just at the beginning of our wine adventure here in Wales. We have a range in the shop and there’s usually at least one open behind the bar for you to try. Click here for the online selection.

    Montgomery and White Castle Welsh wines.
    Montgomery Vineyard& White Castle Vineyard Wines