Loire, Rhône ... now Welsh valley wins awards for its wine

It is already renowned for its rolling green valleys, male choirs, rugby prowess and proud working-class solidarity, but now Wales can add another attribute to this list – the production of fine wine.

The first vintage of a newly-planted vineyard in a sunny valley in Monmouthshire has won two medals at leading wine competitions this week.

Ancre Hill Estate's prosaically-titled White Welsh Regional Wine 2008 was awarded a silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards and a bronze at the International Spirit and Wine Competition, and has been commended or won a medal at a third major show, the International Wine Challenge.

Richard Morris, a chartered accountant who turned his passion for wine into a business five years ago, planted three types of vine – pinot noir, seyval blanc and chardonnay – in a south-facing meadow outside his home four years ago.

Fielding media calls yesterday about his £12 bottle, which he sells from his cellar door, Mr Morris said: "It's our first vintage. You don't expect that to happen – to get three medals from the three most important wine competitions in the world."

The Welshman put the success of his wine down to a good site with low rainfall, sunny weather and good drainage, and "fastidious" viticulture practices such as regular pest spraying and canopy management.

Welsh bottles could compete with the best in the world, providing the vines were planted in the right "meso-climate," he added, saying: "It does always rain in Wales, but there are pockets where there are some valleys where there are surrounding trees that take the rain away."

There are around 15 vineyards in Wales, compared to more than 300 in England, concentrated in Cornwall, Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Suffolk. Most attention and prizes currently alight on English wine.

Mr Morris, 57, and his wife Joy, 50, decided to plant vines at his home in the Wye Valley after selling his part-owned logistics business for £36m in 1999. After a few years of consultancy work and travelling, which involved several trips to vineyards in Australia and South America, he took a course in viticulture at Plumpton College in East Sussex and realised that his home would make an excellent vineyard.

"We sent samples of the local soil for analysis to the geology master at the local school and were delighted to discover the white rocks that intersperse the clay loam soil are Jurassic limestone – responsible for the excellent terroir of the Chablis region in France," he said.

This year Ancre Hill is producing 14,500 bottles but aims to produce 25,000 annually by 2015. Around 70 per cent is sparkling. Mr Morris hopes that on its release in two years' time his sparkling wine will vie with champagne for prizes.

Could the French make a decent warm beer?

Editorial, Viewspaper, page 2

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Exhibition Content Developer

    £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in South Kensington, this prestigi...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - major leisure brand

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Partner

    £25000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Partner is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn