We're winning awards
There's a bit of a grape revolution going on here in Wales. In the last decade or so, we've really started to gain a reputation for both the quality and drinkability of our wines.
As far back as 2012, a wine from the Ancre Hill Estate in Monmouthshire, one of few vineyards in the UK using the ecological methods of biodynamic growing, was voted best sparkling wine in the world at the Bollicine del Mondo International Competition in Italy.
Since then the awards have kept coming – as recently as May 2021 three Welsh vineyards won medals at the prestigious International Wine Challenge. Gwinllan Conwy from North Wales won bronze for both its still and sparkling white wine; Montgomery Vineyard from Mid Wales also won bronze with a still white and a sparkling rosé as well as a silver for its sparkling white.
And although our part of the world isn't often thought of as a red wine hotspot due to our cooler climate, White Castle Vineyard recently won an IWC silver medal and a gold in the Decanter World Wine Awards for one of its reds too! White Castle also produces a rather nice port-style fortified wine named 1581 after the Grade II listed Tudor barn situated at the foot of the vineyard.
This is an exciting time to be producing wine in Wales, there’s plenty to look forward to!
Vineyard tours in Wales
That first commercial vineyard in the UK was planted in 1875 near Castell Coch, just outside Cardiff. A century and a bit on, there are commercial vineyards all over the country. Many are open to the public - so you can make a visit and sample the local produce at first hand. I'd suggest you book ahead to avoid disappointment as tours are for small numbers and can book up quickly.
Monmouthshire has always been particularly bountiful in food and drink, so it's no surprise there are a number to choose from here. As well as those vineyards at Ancre Hill and White Castle, the Parva Farm Vineyard has produced several award-winning wines too. It's located on the hillside overlooking the ruins of Tintern Abbey, one of the most recognisable historic locations in Wales.
You can also tour the 7,000 vines of White Castle Vineyard and enjoy tasty food platters alongside the reds, whites and rosés they produce here. A little further north, Penarth Vineyard produces award-winning white and pink sparkling wines as well as Wales’ first grape brandy.
There are vineyards all over the country. Many are open to the public.
Across in Pembrokeshire at our very own Velfrey Vineyard, we offer tours, tasting and teas to go along with our traditional method quality sparkling wines made from specially selected, hand-harvested Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc grapes.
And up on Anglesey, Red Wharf Bay Vineyard has been making a unique wine made from a blend of UK and Spanish grapes since 2010. They offer tours and tastings, which make a perfect addition to a day out at Red Wharf Bay beach. Gwinllan Conwy offers a Welsh grazing platter as part of its guided vineyard tour and tasting, while Pant Du in the glorious surroundings of Snowdonia has an orchard as well as the vineyard to see on their guided tours.
Read more: Explore the vineyards along the Cambrian Way
Leave the car and stay over
A number of our vineyards offer food and accommodation, so you can make a night (or two) of it. At the Sugar Loaf Vineyards, in Abergavenny there are two cosy holiday cottages, ideal for exploring the rolling valleys of the Brecon Beacons. Nearby Ancre Hill also has holiday accommodation on site.
The Vale of Glamorgan is another hotspot of activity for wine enthusiasts thanks to its rich clay soil and the relatively frost free climate. Award-winning Cariad wines are grown on the slopes of the 28 acre Llanerch Vineyard. Llanerch is a great getaway location, with 37 four-star rooms and a 2 AA rosette restaurant where you can pair the wines with all sorts of delicious dishes. There's also a great cookery school here.
Meadow View Vineyard produces dry whites and traditional method sparkling wines called Gwin Y Fro (Wine of the Vale) from Seyval Blanc and Madeleine Angevine grapes and also offers B&B accommodation at certain times of year. Glyndwr Vineyard has been family owned and run since 1979, producing whites, rosés, reds and sparkling wines which have graced the tables at the House of Lords, the Ryder Cup and even a Nato summit! There are a couple of nice self catering rooms here as well.
Further west, the Cwm Deri Vineyard & Estate nestles amidst the splendour of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. There are several funky shepherd's huts to bed down for the night, along with camping and caravanning options.
Hebron Vineyard on the border of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, has a range of organic wines and offers tours and tastings as well as accommodation in a converted dairy barn. Nearby Jabajak offers vineyard tours, rooms and a restaurant which serves the whites and sparkling rosés produced from grapes grown on the site.
This is an exciting time to be producing wine in Wales, there’s plenty to look forward to! Lots of new plantings mean much more is in the pipeline.
Sticle in Carmarthenshire has 10,000 vines and ambitious plans for its own organic winery. Also in Carmathenshire, Ancre Hill’s winemaker Antonio Rizzo has planted his own small vineyard called Llwyn Pur. The Dell Vineyard in Monmouthshire is under new management and plans to add five more acres.
Gwinllan y Dyffryn in the Vale of Clywd has 7500 vines and is getting ready to release its first wines. And Gwynfyd Môn on Anglesey, Montgomery in Mid Wales and Llaethliw in Ceredigion are all already producing a range of premium wines.
Whinyard Rocks is a small-scale vineyard in Mid Wales which follows the natural method of production and expects to release first wines in 2022. St Hilary Vineyard, near Cowbridge, has planted Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay and will shortly add Seyval Blanc as well.
You can keep up-to-date with everything on the vineyards.wales website.