White Castle Vineyard is owned by Robb & Nicola Merchant and is situated in the beautiful rolling countryside of Monmouthshire in the village of Llanvetherine – Southern Wales. The 5-acre vineyard is planted on a south-facing slope that is ideal for growing vines and ripening grapes for this part of the country. Usually northern hemisphere vineyards need SE facing. Currently, in the UK we have close to 400 producers with 27 in Wales (2 even in Scotland)
Most of the vineyards in Wales have an area just under 1 x rugby pitch size (1ha) for their vines. Whitecastle has just under double that. Not a big size by modern day standards but a great feat considering the attention it has received in recent years. Its reputation has been steadily increasing largely due to supplying major supermarket/s and producing some pretty good wines!
As well as tending to the vines Rob has also been busy restoring a 16th century Croft Barn with Lottery Funding. Seems he never stops!
After exhaustive research into vineyard management the owners decided on the most suitable grape varieties for growing and after farming the land and planting the vines the first harvest was available in September 2011 two and a half years from the initial planting (2008)
The first harvest gained the vineyard Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) from Wine Standards, allowing the produce to be labeled Welsh Quality Wine. This is the top standard for UK wine and a great accolade for a 1styear of production.
WANT TO KNOW More. I can send you a fact-sheet about the quality control of wine. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
When the vineyard reaches full production it should have the capacity to produce 12,000 bottles of wine a year, including sparkling wines.
Here is just a selection of wines from the vineyard.
Fortified Wine 1581 £25.00
Fortified wine. Deep Ruby in colour with a fragrant brambly aromas. The palette is Rich, round and smooth
Pair with Cheese, after dinner or alongside dessert.
Pinot Noir Reserve 2016 £25
Grape: Pinot Noir
Light and ruby coloured with a hint of vanilla, red currants and red cherries on the nose. On the palette is a big smack of blackberry and smoky vanilla
Pair with lamb, fish or pasta – might even suit Carpaccio of Ostrich!
Gwin Gwyn 2017 £15
Grape: Phoenix and Siegerrebe
A gentle “sniffy sniff” on the wine immerses yourself into a glass of floral elderflower with ripe citrus fruits.
Pair with shellfish such as oyster’s prawns lobster and any fish with a hard back!!
Sparkling white 2015 £30.00
An elegant Brut made in the Champagne style. On the nose it has hints of elderflower and gooseberry. A delicate mousse worthy of a champagne house Biscuity aromas
Pairing: most appetizers. Try it with fish and light. Toast with it before or after a meal.
Rose 2013 £13.50
Grape: Pinot Noir, Rondo and Siegerrebe
Dry delicate rose with a hint of strawberry and summer fruits. Good acidity and very refreshing.
Perfect for a summer party on a hot summers day. This is a fabulous aperitif that can be enjoyed all year round
Whitecastle also offers an option for members to plant One option for members is to plant a vine scheme. You can choose 1 of 5 grape varieties for 12 months. Rewards include: a personal certificate of adoption with a plaque with your chosen name placed on the vine. A tour of the vineyard for 2 people included with a glass of wine. An invite to the harvest to handpick the grapes, and a bottle from your adopted vine to take home. A great service and a revenue steam that will prove invaluable if an operation like this is to survive
2018 has seen an unprecedented year for yields on UK vineyards . This has been an exceptional year. Near perfect growing conditions created a bumper harvest. Whitecastle was no different . Harvest was on 27thSeptember with high yields and lasted till 21stOctober. Should be an interesting next 12 months for the vineyard !
Both Robb and Nicola have been nominated for a few awards, this year, most notably The Rural Business Awards for Wales and Northern Ireland 2018 and were one of the finalists in the Best Rural Drink Business.
It is fabulous to see a UK vineyard and more importantly a Welsh one doing so well in the marketplace. It is testament to the hard work and dedication that all producers put in to produce a product that 10 years ago would have been ridiculed. Robb and Nicola are passionate about this venture and when I saw Robb at the WineGB event, showcasing his wine, he was very personable and spent an inordinate amount of time talking to me. I know this vineyard will go from strength to strength. The varietals may not be to everyone’s taste and consumers may not know what Rondo and Siegerrebe are but they are delicate and balanced. Think of Rondo as an alternative Pinot Noir.
To learn more please go to either www.whitecastlevinyard.com or visit my website (www.thegrapewizard.com) email me email@example.com ask me any questions. Sign up if you want to receive an article every-time I post.
Photos courtesy of Whitecastle vineyard