Welsh Wines – WOW!

Welsh Wines showcase their diversity at the London Welsh Centre on 5th March 2024

Think of Wales and you’ll no doubt picture rolling hills, summer holidays, pretty cottages, perhaps even leeks and artisan cheeses, but wine may not be something that springs to mind.

In fact, the Roman’s had a crack at it a few thousand years ago, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that a few dedicated local heroes have had another go.

Today there are over 50 vineyards across Wales growing over 20 different grape varieties from the lesser known Siegerrebe, to the internationally renowned Cabernet Franc.

With the success of English wines, and Welsh produce obtaining PGI & PDO status (Welsh leeks, Caerffili Cheese, Laverbread and Halen Môn sea salt to name but a few), there is increasing confidence that is driving quality and attracting newcomers to the Welsh winemaking world.

Part of the charm of Welsh wineries is that most are still mainly small, artisanal and family owned. There are even some natural winemakers: a tough job in soggy climates where mildew and fungus can be a problem if untreated.

Below are a few of the highlights of the producers who travelled to London to present their wines at the Welsh Wines Showcase Event organised by Levercliff.

Ancre Hill Estates, Monmouth (SE Wales)

S Africa winemaker Jean du Plessis has joined the Richard & Joy Morris to produce 30,000 bottles / year of low intervention wines from their 10Ha of Biodynamic (Demeter certified) organic grapes.

The highlight of Ancre Hills range was their sparkling wines which included 2 traditional method Pinot Noir (zero dosage with 2-4+ years on lees) and 2 Pet Nat blends.

Hebron Vineyard, Carmarthenshire (SW Wales)
Paul Rolt, Hebron Vineyard
Paul Rolt, Hebron Vineyard

Winemaker Paul Rolt returned to Wales after 25 years of winemaking in Andalusia, Spain.

They planted vines in 2010, producing minimal intervention organic wines, fermented on natural yeasts. They also have accommodation and wine tasting experiences at the winery.

Paul is dedicated to the slow wine movement and encouraging customers to experience the wines slowly. With this in mind he kept it simple by showcasing 2 wines: a red Rondo and a white Solaris, both at room temperature and chilled.

Montgomery Vineyard, Powys (central Wales)
Woody Lennard, Montgomery Vineyard
Woody Lennard, Montgomery Vineyard

Woody Lennard from Montgomery vineyard showcased 6 of his wines from the 2 Ha of vines of Solaris, Rondo, Seyval Blanc, Pinot Noir Précoce & Bacchus planted between 2011-2014.

Their first release was in 2016 and has sold out every year since.

Of the 3 sparkling and 3 still wines, the Sparkling Pink & Rosé (from Rondo & Rondo + Seyval Blanc) were particularly charming, and I can see this going down well at one of the wedding events that can be held on-site at the vineyard.

The Dell Vineyards, Monmouth (SE Wales)
Dan Alford, The Dell Vineyard
Dan Alford, The Dell Vineyard

Dan Alford left his career during the covid pandemic to plant a vineyard in 2022 on the family farm. He currently grows Pinot Noir & Solaris with plans in Spring 2024 to plant Seyval Blanc, Pinot Meunier and Cabaret Noir. In the meantime he leases an older 20 year old 0.4 Ha vineyard nearby  with Pinot Noir, Seyval Blanc & Phoenix.

Dan showcased 3 of his wines, a rosé “Y Lleidr” (y-klay-dur meaning ” The Thief”) from Pinot Noir & Seyval Blanc, a white “Yr Afanc” (ear-avank) from Reichensteiner, Shonberger & Phoenix, and an unlabelled experimental Col Fondo sparkling wine for which only 250 bottles were produced.

The still wines were delicious and low in alcohol, ideal for sipping on a warm summer day.

Dan also produces a Pinot Noir gin which was not available for tasting on the day (a sensible move that may have saved our palates and sobriety!).

Vale Vineyard, Denbigh (N Wales)
Gwen & Rhys Davies, The Vale Vineyard
Gwen & Rhys Davies, The Vale Vineyard

Gwen and Rhys Davies showcased 3 of their award winning wines: a dry white (Solaris), a dry red (Cabaret, Divico, Rondo) and a sparkling rosé (Seyval Blanc + 1.5% Pinot Noir Précoce).

I was particularly charmed by their sparkling rosé which showed great freshness and flavour concentration (dried strawberry, raspberries).


Velfrey Vineyard, Pembrokeshire (SW Wales)

Andy & Fiona Mounsey boast several awards including one of the top 100 UK wines and treated us to all 3 of their wines from their 0.8 Ha vineyard.

Of the 2 sparkling Velfrey NV and Rhosyn 2021 (Seyval Blanc + Pinot Noir blends) and dry white Naturiol (Seyval Blanc), the Rhosyn was particularly impressive and expressive with earthy, dried red fruit and overall freshness, all at a very refreshing 11% alcohol.

Whinyard Rocks, Powys (central Wales)
James & Susan Kinsey-Jones, Whineyard Rocks
James & Susan Kinsey-Jones, Whinyard Rocks

James & Susan Kinsey-Jones left London to become the 4th generation to look after James’ family’s 220 Ha sheep farm and start up one of Wales’ few natural wineries.

Between 2017-2023 they hand-planted 1.2Ha with 4,000 vines of Solaris, Phoenix, Muscaris, Ortega, Bacchus, Rondo and Regent – all flavoursome grape varieties that can cope with the cool Welsh climate.
Spring 2024 will see the further planting of 1,500 more vines including Cabaret Noir and Frühburgunder (Pinot Noir Précoce).

All wines are fermented using their indigenous yeast and have eye-catching modern labels that will look at home in the trendy London natural wine bar scene (I suspect that Susan’s previous career in food marketing has helped with their project).

Visitors to the tasting were treated to all 4 of Whinyard Rocks’ wines: Sparkling Red Rondo, Sparkling Traditional Method Phoenix,  Pet Nat (Solaris, Ortega) and Still Red (Regent, Rondo).

In addition to their farm and winery, they also run a boutique guest-house that can be rented by visitors to the farm.

White Castle Vineyard, Abergavenny (SE Wales)

Robb & Nicola Merchant presented one of the largest ranges (7 wines) from this small, boutique producer produces only 10,000 bottles / year which will increase to 30,000 in the coming years with the building of an on-site winery in 2024.

They have 13,500 vines, some dating back to the original vines planted by Robb in 2009 and Cabernet Franc planted in 2019 on the 10th anniversary of the winery.

This is unique to the UK, and Robb believes there is a strong future for Cabernet Franc, showcasing the 2022 vintage for us. It has juicy red fruit  / bramble flavours alongside the characteristic cold-climate herbaceous bell-pepper notes.

Other wineries to look out for (with releases expected from 2024 to 2025) are:

Chilled & Tannin Vines, Glamorgan (S Wales)
0.4 Ha of Rondo & Cabernet Cortis planted by Dom, Rob & Alex who have been running a shop of the same name in Cardiff, championing Welsh wines.
If they have their way, these could appear under the label “Cotes du Glamorgan”

Gwinllan Cae Popdy, Conwy (N Wales)
A small 1.2 Ha vineyard of Solaris & Muscaris which will be released in 2025

St Hilary Vineyard, Glamorgan (S Wales)
A 1Ha vineyard which will produce high quality sparkling wines from the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay planted in 2020, with plans to add Seyval Blanc.

Further information about wineries across Wales & the UK can be found on the following sites:

Welsh Vineyards: https://vineyards.wales/vineyards/
A great resource showing a map and profile of 36 of Wales’ 50+ vineyards.

Great British Wine: www.greatbritishwine.com

The Great British Vineyard Guide: www.gbvg.uk

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Tags: Wales, Wine

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Andy Mounsey
    2024-03-06 19:45

    Great write up! It was fantastic to meet you and thank you for your lovely comments about our Welsh wines.

  • Susan Kinsey-Jones
    2024-03-07 10:29

    Fantastic piece and so exciting to read about the breadth and variety of Welsh wine producers. Your mention of Welsh PGI & PDO produce has got me hankering for a Welsh wine and cheese pairing event… It was really great to meet you and thanks so much for trying our wines!

    • That would be so cool to have a Welsh wine & cheese pairing (I did a little myself at the event with the Caerfilli at the food stand 😄)
      If you want to take it to the next level, you could speak with Ramekins & Wine to find the best pairings


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