2023 CompetitionTwo Golds and twenty-one Silver medals were awarded at the 2023 WVA competition at Cardiff. A record entry of 50 wines were judged by 4 eminent palates:
Sara Hobday of Vin Van Cymru
Katie Jones of Domaine Jones France
Julia Trustram Eve of Wine GB
Especial thanks are due to Llanerch Vineyard who again generously hosted the event, to VIGO of the Rawlings Group who were the principal sponsor and to John Buchan Agronomy, Plan Dinas Country House & The Gunroom Restaurant, Levercliff Associates Ltd and Halfpenny Green Vineyard who sponsored individual classes.
A Double for ROBB MERCHANT M.B.E.What more appropriate award than an MBE from the former Prince of Wales (now H.M. Charles III) than to Robb Merchant. Robb has, so far, given many years of service to Welsh vineyards industry. These include being a founder member of the Welsh Vineyards Association, several years as secretary, 6 years as Chairman (including the difficult times during Covid) and now as Treasurer. Congratulations from everyone.
In addition to his medal from the King, Robb also gained a Gold for his Pinot Noir in the UJK Wine competition.
|The WVA Annual General Meeting took place at CONWY VINEYARD in May 2023 , guests of Charlotte and Colin Bennett. The only change on the Executive was the election of Robb Merchant as Treasurer. After lunch, Sarah Hobdaygave a talk on Wine Pricing in the retail market.Gareth Wynn Jones then spoke on his co-operation with Conwy Vineyard on the use of sheep fleeces in the vineyard. Several members attended the meeting via Zoom. Julia Trustram-Eve of WineGB delivered a report on the activities of that body, also via Zoom.|
CONWY VINEYARDmay be world pioneers in the use of wool fleeces along their rows of vines. Owners Colin and Charlotte Bennett has bought 3000 wool fleeces which they believe will save on sprays, help reflect sunlight onto the vines and prevent slugs and snails crawling onto the vines. In October 2021, two rows of 100 same-variety vines were ringed with sheep fleece. For the trial, no herbicide was used and soil and leaf samples were taken to be compared with those at harvest. When Colin got the results, he could hardly believe his eyes. It seems that as the fleeces degrade, they release nutrients into the soil, so feeding the vines. The benefits were miraculous'. This system will be of benefit not only to the vineyards, but also to the wool producers who are currently getting very low prices for their fleeces.
WVA WELSH WINE AWARDS 2022Congratulations to Judith and Colin Dudley on their winning of the Thomas Davies Trophy for the best wine in Wales. Parva Farm is one of the oldest extant vineyards in Wales.
Winners by classStill White Wine Solaris Vintage 2021. Gwinllan y Dyffryn Vale
Still Red wine Barrel 48 Vintage 2020. White Castle Vineyard
Rosé Vale Rondo Rosé 2021 Gwinllan y Dyffryn Vale
Sparking Rosé Tintern Parva Dathliad NV Parva Farm Vineyard
Sparking White. Pefriog Phoenix Vintage 2019 Gwinllan Conwy
Best PDO/PGI Wine in competitionPinot Noir Précoce Reserve 2019 White Castle Vineyard
WVA members and guests at the celebratory dinner at Llanerch
Our thanks as ever go to Ryan Davies and his team at Llanerch for their hospitaility and magnificent meal and facilities
Congratulations to those vineyards who have never entered before - especially Gwinllan y Dyffrn Vale wirh their maiden crop.
The full results can be accessed via the link shown here.
The judging chamber at Llanerch 2022
Plantings in Wales
Sticle vineyard is by far the largest with 10 hectares with Llanerch having circa 3ha.
WELSH WINE WEEK from 4th JUNEWelsh wine week 2022 features events at PARVA FARM, MOUNTAIN PEOPLE WINES, WHITE CASTLE and CONWY VINEYARD. This is a chance to visit and taste wines, and to see the workings of a Welsh Wine maker Davis Morris at work in the new winery. In addition to listed events, all vineyards will be open during their normal hours. See their websites for full details. New events are featured on Welsh Wine week website
CHARDONNAY and PINOT NOIR in NORTH WALESThere was a time when the furthest north that classic grapes were produced in Wales was at Worthenbury near Wrexham - and that was under polytunnels. As climate changes, and new clones become available, then more and more vineyards are expanding their range of wines. In 2021, CONWY vineyard produced their first wines from CHARDONNAY and PINOT NOIR. As more vineyards are planted in Conwy and the North Wales coast, then there should be further classic still and sparkling wines appearing in the Principality
A new committee takes officeThe 2022 Annual General Meeting at Llanerch saw the association's first ever contested election for Chairman. Afrer a postal vote, supervised by WineGB offical Phoebe French, the two candidates, Andy Mounsey of Velfrey and Woody Lennard of Montgomery were kept in suspense until the results were announced at the AGM. Andy Mounsey took the chair following his success and paid tribute to the work of Robb Merchant, his long-serving predecessor.
In the same electoral manner, Charlotte Bennett of Conwy (a previous official) was returned as treasurer. Christiane Racine of Sticle Vineyard took over as secretary, with Woody Lennard and Robb Merchant elected as committee members.
Another successful WELSH WINE WEEKWelsh Wine Weekconcluded successfully with an increase in tours and tastings seen in many vineyards. In hard times, increasing home tourist numbers are a welcome sign of potential improvements. Competitions included prizes of free tours, and a SPOT THE BALL competition. This featured the Velfrey Vineyard dogs, with a prize of Velfrey's Sparkling White. The competition was very popular, but only one entrant managed to get the answer correct top right hand corner)
WHITE CASTLE Rosé wins the THOMAS DAVIES TROPHYThe 2021 Welsh championship was open to all the vineyards of Wales for the first time so the winner can be classed as the best wine in Wales. Both the Welsh Championship and the Welsh Open Championships were judged by two eminent Masters of Wine, Simon Thorpe and Rob Ballentyne, ably reinforced by Liberty Wine's regional manager Simon Awdry, the two competitions produced 8 Silver medals and 31 Bronze. The winner of the WELSH CHAMPIONSHIP was White Castle Rosé and the WELSH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Llanerch Sparkling White.
Silver medals went to White Castle's Siegerrebe, Rosé and Harry red, Montgomery's Solaris and Sparkling Dry White, Parva Farm's Ty Coch Red, Llanerch's Red and to Treskele White from Gwinllan Hebron.
The judges were particularly impressed by the standard of the red wines produced.
ALL CHANGE AT WINEGBLong standing chairman Simon Robinson has decide to stand down as of the 1st August 2021. He will be replaced by Sam Linter of BOLNEY VINEYARD. Currently, all board members are from the south and South Esat. Hopefully a more geographically balanced board will emerge in future years. There is currently one vacancy and members are urged to put their names forward
WELSH WINE COMPETITIONThe WVA wine competition will take place on 25th May 2021 at Llanerch Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan. The competition is open to ALL vineyards in Wales.
We are also holding a WELSH OPEN COMPETITION for all vineyards inside and outside Wales, producing wines made i Britain from any grape variety.
As a result of COVID19, there will be no dinner, but the results will be announded on a ZOOM broadcast for members at 7.p.m. on the evening of the competion. Class winners will be awarded a trophy, which they keep, while the overall winner wins the Thomas Davies Memorial Cup which is held for one year.
HARVESTING IN MONMOUTHSHIREThe BBC COUNTRYFILE Harvest special programme in October featured barley harvesting in the Outer Hebrides (using the only Combine on the islands), the failure of the oil-seed rape crop as a result of the banning of bee-killing pesticides, and, after a long wait, grape harvesting. For this, they went to White Castle to interview Robb Merchant and watch his enthusiastic pickers bring in the Pinot Noir. After the devastating May frosts, many vineyards have brought in a small but good quality crop that shold see some excellent wine produced.
WINEGB awards 2020
Bronze medal winners
WERN DEG- one of Wales' oldest vineyardsWern Deg was created by Dr. Idris Thomas who retired from his post as the Head of a music Department and moved to Sussex. He maintained his lands at Llanarth in Dyfed. The vines were first planted in 1964,but bad ploughing, attacks by rabbits and birds, as well as faulty spraying contributed to the death of the initial 1000 plants. However, he persisted and by 1970. his 2 acres yielded an average 70 bottles of wine a year. By 1977, a crop of 688kg produced 570 bottles. Most of the vines were Seyve-Villard (Seyval Blanc) and Muller Thurgau- staples of the early British growers, with a little Reichensteiner. A few Ortega, Perle, Chardonnay and Madeleine Sylvaner were also included. Read the full article
Vineyard flowering surveyFor anyone who has lost the link, herewith the results for the flowering survey 2020 by Stephen Skelton Flowering survey 2020
The first flowers of summer?As of the 3rd June, Sunny Bank Nurseries are experiencing the start of flowering on some experimental varieties and on Triomphe too. This includes a David Macgregor variety that has an amazingly strong scent almost reminiscent of honeysuckle the way it wafts on the air. But just as the weather turns … so we shall see how flowering actually goes! By early June we had a monster Cabernet Cortis flower basking in the sun at 27.1c our record recorded temperature – on a mid-post not an end post. Cabernet Cortis is resistant to Downy mildew and botrytis. It is a Freiburg hybrid, bred from Cabernet Sauvignon and Solaris. the grapes are red. We were fortunate not to suffer any frost damage in the vineyard at 180m in Herefordshire - a few ground level shoots only were crisped – which saved me bud rubbing those ! We look to have lots of flower but who knows as usual what the weather may do to turn that into fruit However our fleeced hardwood cuttings at ground level did suffer – but secondaries appear to be pushing on most of those so hopefully we will have plants to sell
The North creeps ever further northwardsThirty years ago, the most northerly vineyard in Britain was believed to be at Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire. In Wales, Worthenbury was active in the early C21st. and Pant Du was planted shortly afterwards. Now the most northerly in Wales is (marginally) Red Wharf Bay. On the westernside of Britain, there were no commercial vineyards near to this. Cheshire had one (Carden Park) which is still active). However,in Lancashire, apart from one amateur vineyard, nothing. However, by 2021, there will be a working winery to support the vineyard at Underscar Manor, just north of Keswick in Cumbria. This historic site, which boasts a (disgraced) Russian oligarch amongst its former owners, is rapidly approaching wine production. Watch this space
Gwernaffield VineyardPlanting by the Whitehouses at Gwernaffield-y-Waun near Mold began in 2019 and is continuing. The 2019 plantimg was of Madeleine Angevine and Bacchus. The later ones were Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir. This probably represents one of the most northerly plantings of PN on the western side of Britain. When active, this will be North Wales' seventh active vineyard. Detals of the three currently in production- Pant Du, Conwy and Red Wharf Bay are available via the Commercial Vineyards page.
GWINLLAN Y DYFFRYN-VALE, NORTH WALES' LARGEST VINEYARDPlanting for North Wales' largest vineyard started in May 2019, with specialist machines inserting the vines at Dre Goch Isaf near Denbigh. Events were recorded on a drone-video, online at the vineyard Facebook page. By June, the first signs of life were emerging and in September, the leaves were well established on the Seyval Blanc and Solaris vines. In 2020, the hard work began! In March, the trellising posts were inserted and the weeding began. Cultivating between the rows was simple with a tractor and disc harrow. Between the vines involved manual labour, and stiff backs!
Welsh Vineyards Tourist Leaflet.The WVA released its tourist leaflet at the 2019 AGM. This leaflet can be viewed by clicking on the map opposite. It can then be printed.
MONTGOMERY STEAL THE SHOW AT CARDIFF 2019Wines from seven vineyards across Wales have been recognised at the Welsh Vineyard Association's annual Welsh Wine Awards. 35 wines were tasted at the event, which was held at Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan. The wines were split into five classes: white, rosé, red, sparkling white and sparkling rosé, which were then judged blind by a judging panel of renowned industry experts: Michael Harrison, Simon Awdry and Yannick Joseph. Each wine was given a score out of 20, with those scoring 14-15.9 awarded bronze, 16-17.9 awarded silver and 18-20 awarded gold. Overall, 29 out of the 35 wines won awards in either bronze or silver. One wine was then chosen as the overall winner for each individual class, with an overall winning wine receiving the Thomas Davies Memorial Trophy.
Montgomery Vineyard stole the show, winning four of the five classes - red, rosé and sparkling rosé - as well as taking home the Thomas Davies Memorial Trophy for its Sparkling Rosé, 2017.
BRYN CEILIOG VINEYARD CLOSESWhile Wales sees many new plantings, Ian Symonds at Bryn Ceiliog near Cardiff has decided to close his vineyard.Bryn Ceiliog Vineyard.
The vineyard is located at Cock Hill which forms part of the Symonds family farm, Beggan Farm, near Leckwith, in the Vale of Glamorgan, where they rear, organically, pedigree Welsh Black beef cattle. The vineyard was planted in 1999 as a means of diversification away from beef, which was mainly their sole business line, on a field that seemed to meet all the criteria for good vines. The vineyard covered 4 acres comprising 3 acres of green grapes (mainly Orion, Phoenix and Reichensteiner, with smaller plantings of Bacchus, Kernling and Findling) and 1 acre of red grapes (core variety Rondo with smaller plantings of Dornfelder and Regent. With the benefit of hindsight Ian believes that they should have planted fewer varieties and, in order to maintain a non-spray organic culture, should have stuck with Phoenix and Orion and, if we were going to do red wine at all, it should have just been Rondo. Click here for the full article
WALES' FIRST FORTIFIED WINE
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 known as '1581'
Says owner Robb Merchant “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 the name 1581, from a grade II* listed Tudor barn at the vineyard, which is situated in the village of Llanvetherine near Abergavenny and Monmouth.