Croeso - Welcome to Spring 2017
This year the spring equinox falls on March 20th and the season will last until the
summer solstice on June 20th although for me the first day of spring will always be March 1st, also know as St Davids Day here in Wales.
Our Welsh wines travelled far and wide as people in Wales and those of Welsh origin celebrate the life of their patron saint, St David also known as Dewi Sant. In the spring we return to hands on work in the vineyard as winter pruning gets well underway. This year Robb has had a helping hand from Nigel his cousin, the signs of bud growth and regeneration in the natural world of vine growing evoke a primitive response in us too. Somehow or other we absorb the signs, from lambs in the fields to the daffodil bulbs shooting "Being outside puts life's niggles into proportion - even if you're grumpy, it's hard to remain so under a wide, blue sky".
Earlier in March Robb and I tasted the fruits of our labour from harvest 2016 and what a year that was, truly reflecting of all the dedication we strive to make our quality award winning Welsh wines. And hot off the press for release later in the year we shall have our first Siegerrebe white wine, an intensely aromatic grape variety, can't wait to share this with you all, Welsh wine week springs to mind 27th May - 4th June. The vineyard is bursting into life, bringing with it a sense of joy and optimism. We are busy planning our calendar for 2017 this will soon be added to our events page. Once pruning is complete we have the task of replacing many of our posts that are an essential part of the trellising system we use, this will probably mean a couple of days tractor driving for me as Robb will be steering our faithful post knocker.
Robb and I have enjoyed many an evening so far this year telling our story at local societies and wider corporate events, Our Welsh wines were showcased at Downing Street along with other Welsh wines as part of Welsh food and drink producers. Robb had an extremely busy start to 2017 attending a reception and dinner at The Worshipful Company of Vintners London. Then a royal invitation arrived requesting the pleasure of the company of Mr Robb Merchant at a reception to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the United Kingdom Vineyards Association at Clarence House London.
Next date on our diary Robb shall be heading off to the Celtic Manor Newport for Wales first international food and drink event. More than 100 of Wales top producers will be exhibiting.
We are delighted that our award winning Welsh wines Gwin Gwyn & Pinot noir precoce shall be displayed on the Welsh government stand for protected food names PDO & PGI status. Robb and a fellow vineyard owner shall be proudly presenting the Welsh Vineyards Association stand with a fine array of Welsh wines.
For now we can safely say we are well on our way with winter pruning, however we have yet to tie the vines down, we leave them upright as lesser impact in the event of a frost at this time of year, fingers and toes crossed nature will be kind.
COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON
The festive season is on the horizon 'tis the season to be merry and what a better way to ring in the season with our selection of award winning Welsh wines.
Welcome to our festive weekend Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th December. The cellar door will be open from 10 until 5pm where we shall have Christmas uncorked.
As well as Christmas gift ideas stocking the drinks cupboard is one of the best bits of the festive run ups. For the main event we have a festive trio, a gift box of three of our award winning quality Welsh wines as gifts mean so much more when they are tastefully and lovingly handpicked.
Have you found the perfect gift for your nearest and dearest? wine and chocolate are a match made in heaven. A total indulgence of White Castle Welsh wine and Black mountain gold chocolate, are just some of our excellent gift ideas, or an opportunity to indulge yourself.
We have the perfect gift for any wine lover "Adopt a Vine" for more information.
So here's to Christmas 2016 let's make it amazing and don't forget your wish list.
ROBB & NICOLA.
Harvest 2016 is well underway at White Castle vineyard and every last day of sunshine and warm breeze is welcome until all the fruits of our labour are hand harvested and pressed.
As always the Rondo grape variety seems well ahead with Pinot Noir précoce a close contender. Overall we are pleased with the growing season and our crop this year is consistent in bunch size and the grape skins have a lovely bloom. This year our Siegerrebe variety has bronzed nicely and fingers crossed we can make our first white wine from its intensely aromatic juice, we shall keep you updated......
As always our kites are flying high and our back up bird scarer keeps us on our toes with its random shot. A spectacular view of lush vine leaf boasting sun kissed grapes can be enjoyed from the terrace, but a wander amongst the vines is a real treat for those of you who are wine lovers or curious as to how we can actually grow and ripen grapes in Llanvetherine, Wales. Returning to the Cellar Door and tasting our award winning wines fullfills a unique experience. Our wine tastings and tours are a great way to learn more about vine growing and how to enjoy wine.
"Fine wine can be one of life's great pleasure by itself or making a good meal great"
Monday 26th September saw the Welsh vineyards association and its members come together at Llanerch vineyard Cardiff for their annual competition.
This year saw a change in format with a trade and press wine tasting session, an opportunity for each vineyard to raise their profile and trade and press to meet the producer.
Running alongside this session was the judging.
42 wines were entered by 9 Welsh vineyards.
This years judging panel were Linda Johnson-Bell a wine critic/ author/ climate change Analyst.
Michael Harrison Bibendum fine wine manager/ judge at various International wine competitions.
David Cowderoy a wine maker himself and owner of Bevtec.
There were 5 classes of wines judged with 10 bronze and 5 silver awards being given We were delighted to gain 2 bronze awards, 1 silver award and the best overall red wine this year. With the competition results announced following dinner we were presented with an engraved salver in recognition of our success with our Pinot Noir précoce red wine.
The awards dinner was attended by representatives from the food Division of Welsh Government.
Filming throughout the day with a live link to the evening was the S4C programme Heno.
Following a great day with fellow vineyard owners and guests its back to work in the vineyard for us, it's true the best fertiliser is the vineyard owners footprint, and on that note here's to a good harvest 2016 to all.
MID SUMMER NEWS
Here at White Castle vineyard the year 2016 has gathered pace.
APRIL saw Robb elected as chairman of the Welsh vineyards association.
MAY saw the profile of Wine Trail Wales & Welsh wine producers raised as we showcased Welsh wines at the Celtic Manor Resort Newport as Drink producers.
Welsh wine week yet again proved a great success with our renowned Welsh cheeses & Welsh wine pairing, we also had the opening of our kitchen facility at the cellar door, were we now offer Welsh cheese platters Friday - Sunday including bank holidays.
JUNE We were delighted to be exporting our 2014 Gwin Gwyn (white wine) to a wine centre in Bordeaux, France.
We also had the opportunity as part of the PFN (protected food names) to showcase our quality Welsh wines at Fortnum & Mason, London.
For those who joined us mid June we held a successful viticulture day in our late 16th century grade 2 * listed barn, discussing pests & diseases in the vineyard with Chris Cooper.
For the first time the English & Welsh wine of the year competition 2016 was hosted in Wales.
As a Welsh vineyard we welcomed all participating vineyards to Wales.
Robb had his first experience behind the organisation of EWOTTY and very interesting was his reply, as the host country he was supported by fellow vineyard owners and the Welsh government and gave his appreciation for Llanerch vineyard CARDIFF for being such good hosts and the success it was.
We are delighted that our Regent 2014 was awarded a bronze medal at this years EWWOTTY 2016.
Welsh wine week at White Castle Vineyard
With Welsh wine week on the horizon its full steam ahead to tie up the exciting new project and facility soon to be available at White Castle Vineyard.
Robb and Nicola have decided to extend their hospitality at the vineyard with Welsh cheese platters served Friday to Sunday and bank holidays.
Welsh wine week is perfect to experience a Welsh vineyard and award winning Welsh wine and of course a Welsh cheese platter. During Welsh wine week the vineyard will be open daily from
Sat 28th May - Sunday 5th June 10am till 5pm.
All Events are listed on www.whitecastlevineyard.com & Wineandheritage.org.uk
For those people who are unable to visit the vineyard there is an opportunity to taste White Castle Welsh wines at The Crafty Devil Cellar Bar, Llandaff Rd Cardiff, take this opportunity to meet the passionate people behind the vineyard as they celebrate Welsh wine week in the Welsh capital.
White Castle vineyard has a fine array of award winning Welsh wine and the latest new release is vintage 2014 Pinot Noir Précoce, it gives a fabulous complex bouquet of dark red berries with layers of mineral nuances. Juicy lush generous and complex on the palate with generous oak and ripe, fine tannins.
Perfect with Welsh lamb, beef and venison.
Vintage 2014 Gwin gwyn (white wine) is a dry delicate white wine with floral aromas of elderflower and ripe citrus fruits on the palate.
Perfect with Cheese, pasta, chicken and fish.
A warm welcome awaits new and returning visitors to White Castle vineyard.
Great Grape News ...
As part of our St Davids Day Celebrations March 1st saw the release of our vintage 2014 Pinot Noir Précoce.
It was great to see our returning visitors and friends Dick & Janet who travelled from Cardiff for the release of our Pinot Noir Précoce vintage 2014.
Pinot Noir is one of the most ancient and noble of all grape varieties.
2012 was our previous vintage of Pinot Noir and the anticipated wait of vintage 2014 certainly lives up to its high esteem.
Later that evening we also celebrated our patron saint with a St Davids Day Welsh wine tasting Dinner. 4 courses of Wales finest food paired with our award winning Welsh wines at The Fig Tree Restaurant, Penarth.
With all that celebrating now a distant memory Robb has returned to our winter pruning and on that note….. How would you like a day winter pruning?
If so.....Contact the vineyard direct and we can look at arranging your visit.
Our Vineyard tours at this time of year allow you to see how a vine grows, from its present dormant stage, once pruned the growing season unfolds.
Take this opportunity to meet the passionate people behind the vineyard.
Did you know "A vine grows primarily from buds on last years wood"
Can you recognise fruitful buds....challenge yourself during your visit.
Winter pruning is the heart of grape growing and the process on which everything else depends.
What is that quote I ask myself....... "Many hands make light work" and indeed they do.
And with that in mind I need to get snip, snipping too.
Let the festivities begin .......Dec. 2015 saw the release of our vintage 2014 Rondo red wine a classic medium bodied red wine perfect for fireside lazing at this time of year. An evening of artisan chocolate paired with our Welsh wines "kick-started" the festive season in style.
Great news is that our award winning Welsh wines are now available at Beacons farm shop @Welsh venison centre Bwlch, Cashell Delicatessen Crickhowell, Black mountain Gold chocolate Crickhowell, Carpanninis Abergavenny & Viader vintners Ltd Cardiff.
Christmas is over and 2016 beckons
It's new year in the vineyard and soon time for us to emerge with pruning gloves, secateurs and "smokey joe"
Nothing banishes winter blues than a bracing tour of the vineyard and the excitement of starting pruning.
This time of year we are busy preparing for the year ahead and winter pruning is the heart of grape growing and the process on which everything else depends.
So far winter has been exceptionally mild, although very wet of late.
Sunday 4th Jan our weather station sited in the vineyard recorded a rainfall of 36.2 mm in 16 hrs and clearly read "Its raining cats and dogs" I couldn't agree more...
By the end of January the days will be getting a little longer and fingers crossed bud formation shall start to enlighten the gloom of winter.
Let's ask ourselves.....if winter comes can spring be far behind?
Robb & Jolly OllyWhether tippling with the Timinator, supping with his Ozness or politely listening to “Jolly” Olly White Castle Vineyard had a warm return welcome to Cardiff on Saturday & Sunday 21st & 22nd November 2015 for the famous Three Wine Men Event. Thousands of wine lovers visited the Millennium stadium over the 2 days. Our award winning Welsh wines where enjoyed in many a raised glass and a typical “Oz Clarke” quote
Robb & Tim Atkin
‘The moment I see Robb, White Castle's boss, I think Wales would have a won a lot more Triples Crowns at rugby if they'd picked him because he's the type of fearsome front row prop no quarter back would ever want to tangle with. And here he is making wine in Abergavenny. His white Gwin Gwyn is about a lovely cool climate hedgerow-fresh white as you'll find.’
Robb, Tony & Oz
HARVEST IS ON THE HORIZON
Saturday 17th October 2015 we plan to begin harvest 2015……
Early predictions are that we are a good 2 weeks later in ripening before harvest this year, however all that could change with the promise of a warm September.
“Ripe for the picking” is a phrase we long to hear as the autumn season unfolds.
Nestled in the Monmouthshire countryside on a gentle south facing slope lies our little gem White Castle Vineyard.
At this time of year you can wander row after row of lush vine leaf boasting sun kissed grapes, each grape variety has its own distinct characteristic.
Ahead with Veraison as always is the Rondo grape variety, closely behind we have Pinot Noir.
We decided this year to have a pre harvest food & wine pairing and that certainly got your appetites going, quite soon we became fully booked. This event is a sure date for your diary next year….
With Abergavenny annual food festival on the horizon, thousands of foodies both local and far afield are licking their lips at the thought of the finest food and drink the festival has to offer.
With this in mind ……. Calling all wine-lovers!
Cling on to the last rays of sun, with an afternoon or evening jaunt where a warm welcome awaits you here at white Castle Vineyard and from the comfort of the Cellar Door or terrace overlooking the vineyard you can enjoy the fruits of our labour.
To date we have produced a succession of award winning Quality Welsh wines. The most recent at the South West Vineyards Association Competition 2015.
Lastly I would like to share with you - Terry and Masons Great Food Trip, earlier this year whilst we were in the midst of Winter Pruning Terry and Mason popped in to say hello...
The duchess is talking with the owner of White Castle vineyard.
A TRIO OF AWARDS FOR OUR QUALITY WELSH WINES
Our first entry in to the UKVA English and Welsh Wine of the year Competition was a great success, gaining three Bronze awards.
The wines entered and awarded being ,Vintage 2014 “Gwin gwyn” [white wine] Vintage 2013 Regent [Red wine] and this seasons favourite Rosé 2013.
Our Regent 2013, [Red wine] received a Commended award at The International Wine Challenge 2015
The international wine challenge (IWC) is accepted as the world’s finest and most meticulously judged wine completion which assesses every wine blind and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage. Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal-winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges.
SWVA Summer Meeting at White Castle Vineyard, Monmouthshire
Members meet in Historic Welsh Barn
Welsh Wine Week 2015
Here at White Castle vineyard we kick started Welsh wine Week with
"A Wonderful Welsh Wine Adventure" we hosted the food adventure tour of two Monmouthshire vineyards.
Mid week we had A Welsh Wine and Welsh Cheese Pairing at the Cellar Door with 5 delicious Welsh cheeses paired with 5 of our Quality Award Winning Welsh Wines.
We rounded off the week with a wine tasting with none other than the person who tends the vines, myself, @Carpaninis Abergavenny.
As always Welsh Wine Week saw the release of a new vintage "2014 Gwin gwyn"
Vineyard & Vine Nutrition
23rd June 2015
White Castle Vineyard, Llanvetherine, Abergavenny. NP7 8RA.
About the course
The course will be run by Chris Cooper, Chris is responsible for writing the UKVA Pesticides Booklet [green book]
Attendees should come away informed how different soils can affect the growth of vines and therefore the importance of site & rootstock selection.
Attendees should gain a working knowledge of macro & micro nutrients, and how these effect vine growth & development, problems associated with limited or excess nutrients plus a guide on how other factors impact on vine growth & berry development.
Course Title: Vine Nutrition
The course will address the following points:
- What are you aiming to achieve with your vineyard?
- Soil types and the effect on rootstock & training
- Nutrient usage by the vine/plants
- Typical deficiency symptoms
- Identifying and rectifying the problem
- New Technologies
The all-in cost of the day is £65.60…per person.
Payment by Cheque, made payable to Village Alive Trust and sent to Robb Merchant, White Castle Vineyard, Llanvetherine Abergavenny NP7 8RA
10.00 AM Meet at White Castle Vineyard, Llanvetherine Abergavenny NP7 8RA
10.30 - 12.45 In the vineyard, to look at location, soils, planting, training and care
12.45 - 13.30 Lunch (Please indicate if any vegetarian/dietary requirements)
13.30 - 15.30 Vine Nutrition
Around 15.30 Finish
Happy Easter All
It doesn't get more exciting than Spring.
Spring is one of the temperate seasons following winter and preceding summer.
In the vineyard Winter pruning is near completion and the growing season is about to unfold.
Easter which falls on April 5th this year is a wonderful time for getting the family together.
There's more to Easter than chocolate.....
Why not visit the vineyard where you can stroll amongst the pruned vines and enjoy the surrounding landscape. On return to the cellar door you can enjoy tasting our quality award winning Welsh wines.
Vineyard tours at this time of year allow you to see how a vine grows from its present dormant stage, once pruned, the growing season unfolds. Challenge yourself in recognising fruitful buds...
However wine tasting alone is an option, with views of the vineyard from the cellar door.
The cellar door is now open Friday, Sat, Sun and bank holidays 10 00 - 17.00hrs with a conducted vineyard tour @ 3pm each day.
Matt Park 5 months ago-
We discovered White Castle Vineyard while driving to visit the nearby White Castle on a weekend excursion from the Cotswolds. The vineyard is not large. Think quality over quantity.
I enjoyed the vineyard tour, wine tasting, and talking with Rob more than I did visiting the White Castle (which was pretty cool to visit). The wine was good. I definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area.
Make it a stop on your Welsh wine visit. Rob also recommended the nearby 1861 restaurant.
His taste in wine seems to be as good as his taste in restaurants.
A New Year........
Having taken early retirement from Royal Mail Robb is able to focus all his time in the vineyard, and we are planning to open the Cellar Door Friday, Saturday & Sunday from Easter 2015.
Harvest 2014 was completed by mid-October with good quality grapes, and Vintage 2014 Pinot Noir is on the horizon.......
We have welcomed New and returning visitors to the vineyard throughout the year and shared our passion and proudly served our quality award winning Welsh wines.
"Years End is neither an end or a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instil in us. Here's to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
Finally, our belief in sustainable farming affects everything we do as we are committed to being stewards of the land so that it remains rich and healthy for many generations to come. The intrigue of wine is unlimited.
Winter pruning is next on the agenda and our old friend "Smokey Joe " will soon be amongst the vines along with Robb & myself.
We have tours & tastings already scheduled in 2015 and forthcoming events at The Cellar Door are soon to be posted.
Festive cheers...... as we pop open the Bubbles
Saturday 6th Dec 2014 saw the release of our first Sparkling Welsh White wine vintage 2012.
An array of Gifts including artisan truffles made with our very own Sparkling white wine made the long awaited release all the more worthwhile.
"Truffles and Sparkling Welsh wine
a match made in Heaven".
New and returning customers enjoyed our selection of Quality award winning Welsh Wines and it's clear to say that many homes and restaurants will be popping the cork of our Welsh wines during the festive season.
Robb and I would like to wish you all
A Merry Christmas and Thank you all for your new and continued custom throughout 2014.
A new year means a new vintage and we have a classic Pinot Noir for release......
shall keep you updated !!
Visitors are warmly invited to visit the Cellar Door
Quality Award Winning Welsh Wines
The release of our Vintage 2012 Sparkling White Wine
Artisan Chocolate & Cheese
6th & 7th December
10:00 to 16:00
2014 Grape Harvest began on Saturday 4th October at White Castle vineyard.
Rain overnight prevented our early start, however by lunch time the sun shone and our first harvesting of 2014 began as always Rondo our first variety to harvest.
Row after row of lush vine leaf boasted sun kissed plump Rondo grapes, along with friends and family we carefully handpicked and pressed that same day.
And next morning our good friends and family and visitors to the vineyard on Saturday, came together and a grand day of harvesting began.
Siegerrebe, Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc were picked by lunchtime our "A" team did us proud.
A huge Thank you to you all.A well earned lunch followed along with our very own quality award winning Welsh Wines, great company, good food and wine made a successful days harvesting a lasting memory for all.
11 days after that we harvested our Phoenix & Regent, well supported by our family & good friends we did it again, I truly believe we have invested in a miracle that takes place every year....
"It's all about getting the plump sun kissed grapes into the press as soon as possible"
Good quality grapes with good analysis.
What a weekend that was......
Our quality award winning welsh wines delighted visitors at the Three Wine
Men Cardiff event. The capital of Wales was host to the event and being the
first welsh vineyard at any Three Wine Men event we certainly triumphed.
Two days of sharing our passion and quality award winning welsh wines with
the trio Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin & Olly Smith and many visitors certainly
raised our profile.
Oz Clarke's tasting note
'Regent 2013 - Here's me wondering whether England can make tasty reds. Hey - head to Wales - just out of Abergavenny on the Ross Road, White Castle Vineyard grows scented cherryish Regent grapes that make this Celtic Red a patriotic triumph.'
A New Release from The Cellar Door
Hooray was heard from The Cellar Door as delighted visitors from far and wide enjoyed our vintage 2013 Oaked Regent Red Wine, long awaited vintage 2013 Welsh Quality Red wine was finally released on Saturday 20th September.
The 2013 harvest of our Regent grape variety delivered wonderful dark berry aromas and flavours, producing a medium bodied deep coloured quality red wine.
The rich dark cherry aromas and flavours are complemented by the subtle use of French oak barrels. The result is an elegant and complex wine with a long smooth finish.
All good things come to those who wait ......
It's official we are guests at The ThreeWineMen Cardiff event at The Park Hotel Cardiff on Saturday & Sunday 11th & 12th October.
Our Quality Award Winning Welsh Wines shall be tasted by Olly Smith, Oz Clarke and Tim Atkin.
They all love wine, they all love talking about wine, they love sharing their knowledge.
Exciting times ahead ........
Veraison, Veraison, Veraison.......
It's that time of year again and on Sunday 24th August we had "The flight of the kites" a sight now hovering above the vineyard until harvest, ducking and diving and protecting our treasured crop from birds and what a good job they do.......
With Robb now retired and full time in the vineyard we seem not to be as pressed for time, am I speaking too soon we have harvest ahead of us.
Our crop to date is looking very promising early predictions are that we are about 3 weeks off harvest, earlier than last year. Green harvesting has left us with plumping grapes the recent spell of gentle rain was needed and this sunshine has given us sun kissed grapes, a sight to see during our weekend vineyard tours. Our 2013 Quality Welsh Wines Rosé & Gwin gwyn have certainly travelled far and wide this summer.
Prestigious Invite for White Castle Vineyard
Robb and I were delighted when a call from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office London requested our quality welsh wines to be served at a reception on Thursday August 28th 2014.
The reception was held at the Locarno suite to showcase Welsh Business, Education and Tourism, attendees included The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM First Minister & The Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP Secretary of State for Wales.
A personal invite gave us the opportunity to share our viticulture passion for grape growing with dignitaries from all countries. A Debut for White Castle Vineyards 2013 vintage "Gwin gwyn" white wine.
White Castle in the Corridors of Power.. visit www.ukvine.com
Prestigious Invite.. visit www.welshcountry.co.uk
Thursday 18th September 2014........... A date for your diary!!
White Castle vineyard Quality Welsh Wines are pleased to be participating in
A Full Day of Cookery Demonstrations in association with Cooks Galley Abergavenny & Penny Lewis of The Culinary Cottage, Pandy.
Four classes throughout the day on Thursday 18th September to get you in the foodie mood ahead of Abergavenny food festival weekend.
Booking is essential as there are limited spaces available. Contact Cooks Galley ltd.
Telephone 01873 854060
Friday 19th September 2014 .........A date for your diary!!
Upcoming Adventures..... White Castle Vineyard Tour & Wine Tasting.
Join Food Adventure and have a conducted vineyard tour at White Castle Vineyard followed by wine tasting before a special 3 Course Dinner at Llansantffraed Court Hotel to kick off the Food Festival Weekend.
For more details & to book visit www.foodadventure.co.uk
Telephone 07542 689608
POP OPEN THE BUBBLES........
POP OPEN THE BUBBLES.........Its White Castle Vineyard 2012 Sparkling Rose for Llansantffraed court Hotel.
Llansantffraed were the first to taste our sparkling Rose from harvest 2012 and delighted by its elegant style, aroma and well balanced palate they now have it listed on their wine list. Quality welsh sparkling Rose is the perfect serve for a special occasion.
Sparkling wine is one of the most elegant extras in life.
Our classic Sparkling Rose is made in true champenoise method with its second fermentation in the bottle.
The vineyard is idyllic at this time of year, as the rows of lush vine leaf flourish a tranquil haven has evolved. With Robb now retired from Royal Mail he will be devoting all his time to the vineyard.
Early predictions of harvest is 6-8 weeks away meanwhile all our time and efforts are to produce a quality fruit which in turn will produce yet another quality welsh wine.
Make the most of those hard earned weekends with a visit to the vineyard where a warm welcome awaits new and returning visitors.
From the terrace are spectacular views across the vineyard where you can enjoy a glass or two of our quality welsh wines.
Great Grape News........
We are planning to release "Adopt A Vine" The perfect Gift.
For release this autumn we have our 2013 Oaked Regent Red wine.
The 2013 harvest of our Regent grape variety delivered wonderful dark berry aromas and flavours, producing a medium bodied deep coloured quality red wine. The rich dark cherry aromas and flavours are complemented by the subtle use of French oak barrels. The result is an elegant and complex wine with a long, smooth finish. We shall keep you updated..............
SUMMERTIME, AND THE LIVING IS EASY (IN WALES)
AT WHITE CASTLE Vineyard in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, summer has arrived and the weather has been kind so far, reports owners Nicola and Robb Merchant.
Nicola says: "It's a busy time in the vineyard as we all know. Earlier bud burst has led to earlier flowering and as usual the robust Rondo are well and truly ahead with flowering, not far behind are Siegerrebe and Pinot Noir.
Row after row of lush vine leaf spans the vineyard. White Castle's cellar door now boasts their new release Quality Welsh Wines Gwin gwyn and Rose.
"The seasons white is impressive. The seasons Rose is refreshing, delicious and always in demand," adds Nicola.
The first release of White Castle 2011 Sparkling Rose is coming to an end. However they are about to release their 2012 Sparkling Rose soon.
STEP INTO SUMMER 2014
CONDUCTED VINEYARD TOURS FOLLOWED BY WINE TASTING SATURDAY & SUNDAY @ 3PM EVENINGS & WEEKENDS BY PRIOR ARRANGEMENT.
CELLAR DOOR OPEN SATURDAY & SUNDAY FOR GIFTS AND WINE PURCHASES
10.00 - 17.00hrs
WELSH WINE WEEK HERALDS THE RELEASE OF 2013 ROSE & GWIN GWYN
With Welsh Wine Week in the distant past Robb & I reflect on yet another successful week, the pinnacle being the long awaited release of our 2013 Rose & Gwin gwyn, and well worth the wait said by so many.
Again we had visitors from far and wide, and we were pleased to be part of Food Adventure UK vineyard tour on Bank Holiday Monday, greeting guests to the vineyard and conducting a vineyard tour followed by wine tasting.
Our guests had the privilege of tasting our Bronze Award winning 2012 Rondo.
The growing season has got off to a good start, with bud burst a good 3 weeks ahead of 2013 we had a few weeks of fingers crossed for no Jack Frost but we came through it unscathed.
We now have an array of quality still wines Rose & Gwin gwyn(White wine ) along
with our 2011 Sparkling Rose, sometime soon to be released Oaked Regent Red Wine and our 2012 Sparkling white & Rose Wines.
We are pleased to say our quality Welsh Wines are now available not only from the Cellar Door but also @Restaurant1861, @TheGalleryBarry, @Felinfachgriffin, @Carpanninis Abergavenny.
With a busy calendar of conducted vineyard tours and wine tastings a warm dry summer is wished for by all.
A warm welcome awaits new and returning visitors to our tranquil setting here on the foothills of White Castle, with spectacular views of The Skirrid Fawr and The Blorenge mountains.
Make the most of those well earned weekends and we look forward to meeting you soon.
Not many places on earth boast a landscape quite like Monmouthshire Wales, lush green meadows and mountains span the landscape. Here in the vineyard "The darling buds of May have burst" earlier than last year. On the 12th April we had full and bursting bud break, then within 10 days bud burst was well and truly underway, perhaps too soon some would say from now on in its fingers crossed no Jack Frost....... Its all in the weather. This month we have Welsh Wine Week, this offers a great opportunity for visitors to walk and explore the vineyard, meet the passionate people behind the vineyard and then taste the fruits of our labour, Our Quality Welsh Wines. Saturday 24th May shall herald the launch of our 2013 Quality Welsh Wines. Long awaited Rose and 1st release Gwin gwyn shall soon be available. We offer our weekend conducted vineyard tour followed by wine tasting at 3pm Saturday & Sunday Year-round.
March 1st gave us a true spring day "St David's Day" our Welsh wines travelled far and wide this year and the Cellar Door was open to visitors who could admire the vineyard in early spring from the terrace.
Pruning has begun although we still have row after row ahead of us, Winter pruning is the heart of grape growing, and the process on which everything else depends.
This month is exciting as we shall taste the fruits of our labour from harvest 2013, we shall keep you all updated.
With 2013 being our largest harvest to date we look forward to releasing our wines during Welsh Wine Week, May 26th -June 1st 2014.
The release of Rose and White wines is longed-for by many, with vivid memories of our first release wines Phoenix White wine & Pinot Noir Rose.
Let's not forget Wine Trail Wales.
Welsh vineyards produce around 100,000 bottles of wine each year and welcome visitors for tours with tasting sessions.
We are pleased to be part of Wine Trail Wales and visitors are warmly invited to the vineyard to experience the beauty and tranquillity of our rural setting.
Walk and explore the vineyard and have the chance to meet the passionate people behind the vineyard.
But for now it's pruning and more pruning for us, in-fact the next 2 weeks Robb and I hope to complete our winter pruning, fingers crossed the weather is good to us......
Smokey-joe accompanies us and keeps us warm as well as burning our prunings as we go, such a great help, forever grateful to Robb with his invention of 2013.
A New Year 2014
Time to reflect on 2013.....
The year began with a snow fall, zero and minus temperatures the vineyard looked like "A Winter Wonderland" whilst the vines lay dormant
January saw the invention of "smokey Joe" in readiness for winter pruning, patent by Robb himself.
February 2013 we spent weeks winter pruning in readiness for the growing season, occasional snow flurries as we pruned.
March 2013 we tasted the fruits if our labour from harvest 2012 along with our Sparkling Rose from harvest 2011 which lay rested on its lees.
April 2013 we lift red 5.5 miles / 8750 metre of mulch that surrounded the vines since planting in 2009.
May 2013. Spring had sprung. Bud burst.
June 2013. 25th May - 2nd June Welsh Wine Week, an annual event.
An opportunity to walk the vineyard and meet the passionate owners.
June 2013 was the milestone when Welsh Vineyards came together and formed A Welsh Vineyard. Association and Wine Trail Wales.
Welsh wine week we released our 2nd vintage wines Pinot Noir and Rondo.
July 2013. 6th July we had our first flowering within the Rondo grape variety.
August is a month of canopy management. Flowering complete fruit set follows.
September is again canopy management to allow the grapes to bask in the sunshine, veraison well and truly established.
October 31st saw the last harvest of grapes from the vineyard. Vendange complete for another year. 2013 hoping to be a vintage to remember.
Great Grape News: Our Rondo 2012 gained a bronze award at The Welsh Vineyard Association Inaugural Competition 28th October.
November. Finally finished washing all those picking crates too many to count!!!
December 2013. Our Festive Weekend At The Cellar Door saw the release of our 1st Sparkling Wine Vintage 2011.
Live Christmas tipples....Robb and I were invited to join Jamie Owen at BBC Wales radio for a live interview on Sunday 8th December. What A Year That Was......2013
Festive Cheers. Festive Sparkle.
Pop Open The Bubbles was the call of the day Saturday 7th December with the release of our 1st Sparkling Wine. Visitors were warmly invited to visit the Cellar Door to join us as we released our Sparkling Rose, Vintage 2011. The distinctive creak and pop means something good is about to happen…. Its Christmastime The Home-Grown Triumph, Seasonal favourite certainly Sparkled. Handmade Truffles made with our own Sparkling Wine made a Festive Duo.
Sparkling Wine is one of the most elegant extras in life. Whilst wines are fermented once, sparkling wine goes through a secondary fermentation creating the bubbles held within the wine. Here we have a traditionally bottle fermented Sparkling Wine. It’s a great luxury for us that we are now able to make Sparkling Wine at home in Wales. A crisp and dry, refreshing Sparkling Rose with aromas of apple and raspberry leaving a mouth watering finish.
The Main Event.
Sunday 8th December Robb and I were invited to join Jamie Owen at BBC Wales radio for a live Interview.
For those who missed today’s interview...
Live Christmas tipples.
Visitors are warmly invited to visit the Cellar Door
Quality Award Winning Welsh Wine
The release of 1st Vintage 2011
Artisan Chocolate & Cheese
7th & 8th December 10:00 to 16:00
Harvest 2013 A vintage to remember......
With our largest harvest to date 5 ton of grapes have now been pressed.
Harvest this year was later due to a good autumn of sunshine, every last day of sunshine helped raise the sugar content, and equally reduced the acidity in the grapes ... just what we needed.
We look forward to producing a Red, Rose and White Wine this year.
I truly believe we have invested in a miracle that takes place every year.......
Wine is sunlight held together by water......
Great Grape News.
Our 2012 Rondo Red Wine Gained A Bronze Award at The Welsh Vineyard Association Inaugural Competition held on 28th October 2013 at Llanerch Vineyard.
We have planned A Festive Weekend at the Cellar Door for Saturday 7th &Sunday 8th December 2013.... and let's not forget we are planning to release of our 1st Sparkling Wine from grapes harvested in 2011.
Phase one harvest complete. Saturday 12th October weather on our side we began harvest. Robust Rondo, Siegerrebe & Pinot Noir all hand picked kick started the 2013 vintage, everyone worked so hard as we gathered our largest harvest to date. Harvest was followed by a hearty lunch and wine of course.....
This month also includes The Welsh Vineyard Association Inaugural Competition to be held @Llanerch Vineyard on October 28th. Exciting times for Welsh Vineyards. With a second phase harvest on the horizon we have a busy month indeed.
White Grape varieties are to enjoy a last few weeks of Autumnal sunshine before harvest, shall keep you updated....
From ukvine newsletter
ukkvine newsletter: No. 56
Monday September 30, 2013
Robust Rondo well ahead with
(White Castle Vineyard)
Pre Harvest 2013
Early predictions for this years harvest I have no idea!
So far Mother Nature has been kind. From bud burst to flowering to fruit set and now veraison we are on target for our best harvest to date. Robust Rondo leads the way as always, the vines are showing even growth throughout. This year we shall harvest our Siegerrebe for the first time, an aromatic white variety. Many hands make light work as all our grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested to ensure we provide quality grapes for the winemaker, who in turn provides us with a quality welsh wine.
From now on we watch veraison progress, row after row of lush vine leaf soon to boast sun kissed grapes perfect for harvest, our fingers crossed.
2013 ... hoping to be a vintage to remember.
Rondo flowering 6th July 2013
With our sights finally on summer the vineyard is rapidly displaying its fruits, and a grand sight to see I must say. Year 5 and heading towards our 3rd vintage. This year we have seen a consistent even growth throughout the vineyard the vines are maturing year on year and presenting us with a flourishing tranquil environment, basting in the sunshine that has eventually arrived and long may it last. First flowering within the Rondo 6th July 2013. This year sees the first harvest of our Siegerrebe, an intensely aromatic variety.
Wine Trail Wales is out there and offers you an opportunity to visit vineyards throughout Wales, allowing you to walk amongst the vines and the meet the passionate people behind the vineyard.
Enjoy our quality Welsh Wines whilst sat on the terrace, overlooking the vineyard in all its splendour. Memorable settings that make memories that last forever.
For us the hands on vines is ongoing we have shoot positioning high on the agenda, tucking in and of course leaf stripping before harvest to allow maximum sun penetration to those sun kissed grapes we harvest. Weekly mowing of the grass allows us to cruise the rows of vines and lose ourselves in what was once a dream
And so on that note I leave you all to enjoy a summer of sun and maybe meet you one day at a place we love and own our vineyard.........
Lets not forget the release of our 1st Sparkling Rose later in the year. The sound is unmistakeable; the distinctive creak and pop means something good is about to happen; 1st release 2011 Sparkling Rose some time soon!!!!
Welsh Wine Week 2013
With welsh wine week well and truly in our memory it's time to reflect. Robb and I escaped to a paradise island Agistri in Greece where we did absolutely nothing but reflect on the success of our second welsh wine week. Met with our old friends and stayed in Hotel Andreas as we have done many times before.
It began with the release of our 2012 Pinot Noir on Saturday 25th may and yes those of you who had the chance to taste as we did it was well and truly worth the wait, all hand-picked our Pinot Noir has delivered a subtle wine with an aroma reminiscent of soft berry fruits.
Visitors to the vineyard came from far and wide, the weather was good if you remember and bud burst was well underway with unfurling a classic sight seen throughout the vineyard. Jack Frost stayed away and thankfully we are flourishing as I write this; 2013 could be a vintage to remember !!
Moving on and a milestone in itself we have come together as welsh vineyards and formed Wine Trail Wales. A 'must do' for a holiday in Wales.
Time is of the essence is a familiar saying of mine, returning to the vineyard within the next 48 hrs leaving temperatures of 38 degrees behind for that tranquil setting we know and love., and yes with work to be done.
We have uncorked the Pinot Noir at last and plan to release our 2011 Sparkling Rose at the end of this year, shall keep you updated.
Bud Burst May 2013
We saw the first buds burst around the 9th may this year approx. 2 weeks later than last year I would say. Rondo leading the way as always with Pinot Noir a close second to burst its buds, Unfurling shortly followed.
WELSH WINE WEEK AT WHITE CASTLE VINEYARD
25th May – 2nd June 2013
Saturday 25th May 2013. The launch of our 2012 Red wines: Rondo & Pinot Noir.
Conducted vineyard tour and wine tasting @ 3pm Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday, an opportunity to walk and explore the vineyard and meet the passionate people behind the vineyard.
Following a conducted vineyard tour we shall return to the Cellar Door and have the opportunity to taste our 2012 vintage quality welsh Red wines: Rondo & Pinot Noir.
From the terrace we have spectacular views across the vineyard row after row of vines a grand sight as the growing season unfolds.
Tuesday – Friday we offer a conducted vineyard tour and wine tasting @ 5pm, by prior arrangement.
Welsh Wine Week 2012 was the platform to open the vineyard gate to one and all and the launch of our first vintage 2011 quality welsh wines. Here we are about to release our second vintage; where has the time gone we ask ourselves?
Wine Trail Wales takes its first steps with a photograph launch for Welsh wine Week & Wine Trail Wales, with Minister for Agriculture Alun Davies at White Castle Vineyard, and yes the sun did manage to shine….
Welsh Wine Week Special Offer: Blas ar Fwyd are offering a half case of Welsh Wines delivered free anywhere in Wales until the end of June 2013. Diolch yn fawr.
Exciting times ahead for Welsh Wine……
Next we shall begin bud rubbing hoping Jack frost has well and truly said goodbye!!!
Spring has Sprung
The vineyard is now moving into the growing season. The sap is rising and Woolly buds are a sure sign. Bud-burst and unfurling are on the horizon. We have had to wait a long time for spring but I have to admit being outdoors is so much nicer when the sun is on your back.
With winter pruning finished we can look ahead to a season of changes in the vineyard. From bud-burst to flowering to fruit set each stage tells me we have invested in a miracle that takes place every year; Harvest being our Goal.
Since pruning we have also lifted the mulch that surrounded each vine since planting in 2009. 8750 metres of mulch : 5.5 miles; many days of many hands make light work well and truly behind us.
Nicola pruning with our new burner
As we prepare for spring and with winter pruning well underway we see the vineyard become uniform in its appearance. Row after row of pruned vines lie before us as the growing season begins.
The vine is not the tender difficult plant some would have us believe. It is tough, very hardy in winter and amazingly adaptable. The most important climatic factors as far as the vine is concerned are those of rainfall, sunshine hours and air temperature.
The vine is no more susceptible to frost damage than the apple, except the apple usually bears its blossom higher off the ground. The only time of year when the vine is vulnerable to frost is in the spring, at or after bud burst.
Having visited the winery on March 6th we were able to taste the fruits of our labour from harvest 2012 along with our sparkling Rose from 2011, we are pleased to announce that we will shortly be releasing 2 red wines and later in the year our 1st Sparkling Rose.
Winter Review. January 2013
The vine has been left to ripen its wood; and we are planning to begin our winter pruning early February 2013.
The growing season is about to begin.
Pruning is the heart of grape growing, and the process on which everything else depends.
The best time to prune is when the buds begin to look plump but before they swell rapidly towards bud break.
A vine grows primarily from buds on last years wood. Without pruning, it soon becomes a tangle of multiplying canes and buds.
A thought whilst pruning..
Love the grapevine, one must really care for them as well as take care of them…
“Handle the vine like a man; the wine like a woman,”
Let the festivities begin.
On Saturday and Sunday 8th & 9th December we shall welcome new and returning visitors to the Cellar Door.
We have excellent gift ideas, a gift anyone would wish to receive.
An elegant present for any wine lover or perhaps a gift for a couple.
A sophisticated present or an opportunity to indulge yourself – your choice. Great for your wine rack or a lovely Gift medley.
Quality welsh wines for your Christmas Dining table, Mouth -watering whites & Pinot Noir Rose and a limited release, yes limited release of our relaxed Red from our first vintage 2011. Perfect for fireside lazing.
We have Black Mountain Gold fine Artisan chocolate which is made in the beautiful surroundings of the Black Mountains. Wine and chocolate the classic pair.
Also Blaenavon Cheddar Company, with an array of handmade welsh cheese, a must have is the Desert Christmas pudding which will grace any cheeseboard over the festive season.
Our terrific festive selection is sure to bring you plenty of festive cheer! And see you through the winter days in style.
Post Harvest 2012
With the fruits of our labour hand-picked and pressed our 2012 harvest is complete.
The vineyard will naturally begin to lay dormant for the winter months.
Firstly a change in leaf colour enhances the vineyards splendour at this time of year.
Row after row what was once lush vine leaf now a tapestry of colour, true autumnal colours.
Then leaf fall a sure sign of seasons complete for yet another year and a vintage to remember.
Vineyard Tours and Wine Tasting shall resume Easter 2013.
Cellar Door open Saturday & Sunday 10am-4pm for Wine purchases and Gifts.
We are looking forward to our second harvest and currently predict we will begin harvesting in 2-3 weeks time, mid October weather permitting. First to harvest will be the Rondo variety. Row after row of lush vine leaf boasting sun kissed grapes, basking in the autumn sunshine.
Pinot Noir Rose
A light, elegant and refreshing Rose made from the Pinot Noir grape. Strawberry and summer fruit aromas, leaving a mouth-watering finish. Perfect for summer drinking.
Awarded Highly Commended at the Autumn South West Vineyard Association Competition 2012
A dry delicate white wine made from Phoenix grapes. Floral aromas of elderflower and ripe citrus fruits on the palate.
Awarded Highly Commended at the Autumn South West Vineyard Association Competition 2012.
The 2011 vintage is a limited release wine made from the Rondo grape. A medium bodied wine, with redberry fruit aromas and soft tannins.
An exciting time lies ahead for Robb & Nicola. After our initial planting in 2009 we managed a small harvest in 2011, and we are planning to release our first vintage wines during Welsh and English Wine Week which takes place 4th /10th of June 2012. Visitors will be able to tour the vineyard and taste our first wines with spectacular views across the vineyard.
After 3 years of waiting White castle vineyard launched their first vintage wines, Saturday 2nd June was a day they won’t forget, after a hectic week, the gates were opened to allow visitors to walk the vineyard and taste their very first wines from the cellar Door and enjoy spectacular views across the vineyard. The launch of the wine coincided with welsh wine week and it was an exciting time for Robb and Nicola as the fruits of their labour were tasted by many.
First released wines are Pinot Noir [Rose], Rondo [Red] and Phoenix [White].
The vineyard is open Saturday And Sunday 10 am until 5 pm, with a conducted tour of the vineyard at 3 pm, which includes a tasting of our Phoenix white wine and Pinot Noir Rose wine.
With the help of family & friends and the excellent weather through September & October our harvest was completed, finishing with a hearty lunch and wine of course.
The vines have kept there part of the bargain and have delivered us a harvest of sweet fruit. We shall taste it and relish it fresh. Of all juices, grape is the sweetest of nature’s nectars.