Places to stay, things to do, good food and drink
The 24th May -1st Junes marks a national celebration of Welsh wine!
You may not know it but the British wine industry is booming thanks to the warmer climate and the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley has an three top vineyards producing bottle after bottle that would rival our French neighbours.
Here is our guide to the best in the wine business in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley…
1. Parva Farm
Based in Tintern, Judith and Colin Dudley have been running this little vineyard since 1999. They began with a medium-dry white then experimented by moving on to a sparkling wine for the Millennium, a Pinot Noir and even s spicy Welsh mead in later years. In 2006 they introduced a sparkling rose to celebrate 10 years at Parva Farm.
If you want to try it for yourself, our top picks have to be their Bacchus grown from an aromatic grape from Germany, a Pinot Noir of an ancient French variety or their Regent stemming from a German hybrid vine.
But there’s more to come as Colin and Judith have turned their hand to cider now too! Made with apples from the farm and the neighbours’ organic orchard, their ‘Tintern Parva Siedr’ was actually fermented in an old wind barrel – but you’d never know!
As for awards, their Tintern Bacchus won a commendation in the International Wine Challenge 2013 and ‘Best Food Tourism Business’ in the Monmouthshire Business awards in 2013!
Their newly-refurbished farm shop sells wine, meads, Welsh cheese, honey, preserves incorporated into an indoor tasting area, so you can sample and shop at the same time and visitors are always welcome on tours too.
2. White Castle Vineyard
Close to Abergavenny this 5 acre vineyard grows down a slope, perfect for growing vines! It has been looked after by duo Robb and Nicola Merchant since 2008 after they extended their little home with the addition of carefully planted vines. Having both studied viticulture it is no surprise their business is flourishing.
From 2009 onwards thousands of vines have been planted to produce the first Pinot Noir and Regent building up to a now tempting selection. The grapes are closely monitored, hand harvested then straight to pressing.
For Welsh Wine Week, on Saturday 24th May we’ll see the launch of their 2013 Quality Welsh Wines including a brand new Rosé or Gwin Gwyn followed by a tour (held every Saturday and Sunday) and a 3pm wine tasting.
Their wines are available for purchase straight from the cellar door – you won’t be able to resist taking a bottle home!
A family-run business who plant, grow, harvest and bottle all their wine on site. Started in 2002 with only 200 white Reichensteiner vines, over the years they’ve added more and more varieties to their list to suit all palates such as the white Phoenix, a Schonburger and the classics: a Pinot Noir or Seyval Blanc.
Their alpaca herd are around waiting to be admired if you embark on a nature walk, and their wool have been transformed into snugly products such as socks, hats and neck warmers which are on sale in their shop. They also offer tours for the opportunity to learn first hand from the wine-maker, answering any queries about the delicate process that you may have (£10)
However, it’s not just wine! On the edge of the garden are three Potato Pear trees which provide delicious fruit for the Over the Hedge Perry, or try their Black Dingle cider which is made from apples gathered from the local area.