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High hopes for Wales’ wine sector

Gwinllan Conwy Vineyard

A Welsh Government minister has said she has “high hopes” for the future of Wales’ wine industry following the success of the first Welsh Wine Week.

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, made the statement following the week-long series of virtual events hosted by vineyard owners and members of the hospitality, food and drink sectors from 27th July-2nd August.

Welsh Wine Week was organised in response to the loss of food and drink focused tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Designed to give audiences in Wales and beyond the chance to discover the country’s burgeoning number of vineyards and reveal its range of award-winning vintages, Welsh Wine Week aimed to boost online sales in what would have been the industries busiest season for ‘cellar door’ income through tours, events and tastings.

Events included Welsh wine tutorials with Monmouth’s Ancre Hill, and a food pairing session with rosé and white wine from Amanda Stuart Robson, owner of Jabajak Vineyard in Whitland, West Wales. Meanwhile, one of Wales’ newest vineyards, Gwinllan y Dyffryn in Denbigh gave a tour of its vineyard planted in 2019 and discussed the work involved with a young vineyard.

Among the numerous challenges facing vineyards this year, climate change continues to impact growers across the world. Wine regions that rely on specific climates to produce some of the most popular wines, such as Chardonnay from the Burgundy wine growing region of France, are having to contend with rising temperatures year on year affecting the taste of their crop. Industry experts have suggested that Wales could take advantage of its cooler climates however, to become one of the world’s classic wine regions.

Lord Elis Thomas MS took part in the events joining Gwinllan Conwy for virtual wine tasting.

Lord Elis-Thomas, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism said: “Wales’ wine sector is readied to grow, demonstrated in the new vineyards opening year on year across the country. Our growers are well versed in managing unusual climates, from the micro-climates in North Wales to the adverse winter weather traditional agricultural farmers face every year. But our cooler climates certainly add a string to Wales’ wine-growing bow.

“Welsh Wine Week has galvanised the interest of wine fans and brought new awareness to the uniqueness of our wines, so I’d encourage wine drinkers to continue to show support for Welsh vineyards on their journey to become internationally acclaimed.”

Lesley Griffiths MS said: “Welsh vineyards are making a name for themselves, producing delicious wine that is becoming distinguished and distinctly associated with Wales.

“And importantly there is clearly a strong community spirit within the Welsh wine industry to drive this sector forward. Vineyard owners across Wales responded quickly and effectively as a Cluster to the COVID-19 pandemic, diversifying their businesses and driving sales through e-commerce.

“If vineyards can capitalise on the success of Welsh Wine Week and the increased visibility the events have brought to the sector, I have high hopes the industry will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Welsh Wine Week was organised by the Welsh Drinks Cluster, funded by Welsh Government, which works in partnership with vineyards, retailers and wholesalers to promote the industry and its production of world class products.