The South West Wine of the Year is ....a STICKY!

Gloucestershire's Three Choirs Vineyard wins the South West Wine of the Year with its dessert wine "Noble Harvest 2015".


Pictured is winemaker Kevin Shayle from Three Choirs Vineyard, Newent, receiving the SWVA Wine of the Year 2017 trophy for the best wine in the annual competition from chief judge, Patricia Stefanowicz MW.

The Wine of the Year is chosen by the SW Vineyards Association competition judges after a taste-off between the winners of each class of the competition. In recent years it has mainly been won by sparkling wines, so for a dessert wine to win is unusual and welcome.

This year the competition was judged by a team of six judges at Devon's Pebblebed Vineyard, at Clyst St George near Exeter, on 11th September. The awards ceremony was the following day at Pebblebed and attended by member vinegrowers and winemakers from across the south west, from Herefordshire to Cornwall.

Pebblebed's owner Geoff Bowen welcomed members, explaining that Pebblebed's aims were to be a local vineyard with strong community involvement rather than seeking a national or internationl profile. It is staffed only by Geoff and winemaker Alex Mills and run with the help of volunteers and partners, including those from his BBC "Dragon's Den" appearance. Much of the wine is sold through his wine bar in nearby Exmouth. At harvest they welcome between one and two hundred volunteers.

The showery weather was kind on the day and members were able to chat, taste the competition wines, enjoy a delicious salad buffet and listen to the announcement of the competition results out of doors in Pebblebed's courtyard, under the awning.

Chief judge Patricia Stefanowicz reviewed the wine classes, commending particularly the sweet whites and white sparkling, the only classes where judges, judging to international standards, had awarded Gold Medals. The judging team of six, Patricia, Alastair Peebles MW, Jemma Mitchell, Lindsay Oram, Tim Johnson and Richard Coulson contained two Masters of Wine and three who regularly judge international competitions. All are qualified to at least WSET Diploma/Educator level.

Guy Smith (Smith & Evans) announced the results, starting with the news that Ian Edwards (Furleigh Estate) had decided to stand down as SWVA Chair after three years. Guy, as Vice Chair, thanked Ian for all his work, particularly representing the needs of smaller producers so effectively during the negotiations for the merger of UKVA and English Wine Producers. Guy was later confirmed as Chair by the SWVA committee, who met after the event, with Sandy Luck (Aldwick Court Farm) taking over as Vice Chair.

You can see the full results here>> . Wine of the Year was Three Choirs dessert wine "Noble Harvest 2015". Other Golds went to Langham Estates who scooped both of the sparkling wine trophies with "Blanc de Blancs 2014" and "Rosé 2014", to Camel Valley for their "Chardonnay Brut 2014" and to Furleigh Estate for "Blanc de Noirs 2014". Sharpham Estate also won two trophies, for the Best Dry White and Best Rosé.

Trophies for the best wines in each category were:

Best Dry White: Sharpham "Dart Valley Reserve 2016". Winemaker Duncan Schwab.

Best Oaked White: Polgoon "Seyval Blanc-Ortega 2015". Winemaker John Coulson.

Best Non-Dry White: Three Choirs "Noble Harvest 2015". Winemaker Martin Fowke.

Best Rosé: Sharpham "Whole Berry Rosé 2016". Winemaker Duncan Schwab.

Best Red: Three Choirs "Raven's Hill 2016". Winemaker Martin Fowke

Best Sparkling White: Langham Estates "Blanc de Blancs 2014". Winemaker Daniel Ham.

Best Sparkling Rosé: Langham Estates Rosé 2014". Winemaker Daniel Ham.

Best Non-Commercial Dry White Wine: Claylands "white number one". Winemaker Darryl Gill.

Best Small-scale Winemaker: Darryl Gill.

The Gillian Pearkes trophy for best contribution to the work of the SWVA went to Jane Awty.

The event in pictures:


Pebblebed_-_farmhouse Arriving_at_Pebblebed  GeoffBowenSpeaking

CompetitionLunch17  Pudding  Trophies Duncan_Schwab JohnCoulsonBestOaked SharphamBestRose Daniel_Ham GillianPearkesTrophy

Pictured above (starting top left), Farmhouse at Pebblebed; members gathering in Pebblebed's courtyard; Geoff Bowen's welcome speech in their tasting/function room; buffet lunch under the awning; pudding; SWVA trophies set out for the open-air prize-giving; Sharpham's Duncan Schwab receiving the trophy for Best Dry White from Patricia Stefanowicz, on the right Guy Smith; Polgoon's John Coulson receiving the trophy for the Best Oaked White; Sharpham's young winemakers Tommy Grimshaw and Charlie Brown collecting the trophy for Best Rosé; Langham's winemaker Daniel Ham collecting BOTH fizz trophies; Jane Awty (Oatley) receiving the Gillian Pearkes bowl for services to the SWVA.


SWVA AGM and Spring Meeting at Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard


SWVA Members gathered for a welcome day out from winter pruning to meet friends and colleagues 2017_AGMat delightful Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard, at Redhill near Bristol, on 7th March, by kind invitation of Sandy Luck.


Ian Edwards, Chairman, outlined first the recent developments in the organisation of the UKVA, including the creation by retiring UKVA Chair Sam Lindo of the UKVA Management Committee, as an extra resource to drive developments. The major outcome had been the appointment of CEO Barry Lewis and the negotiations towards unity with the marketing organisation of the large producers, English Wine Producers. There is still detail to be sorted out but the merger looks set to go ahead, with Extraordinarly General Meetings of both organisations expected in late spring to consider the proposals.


Jane Awty, a small-vineyard member of the Management Committee and an SWVA member has been  serving on the group that has been developing new proposals for the UK national wine competition, and presented details. The new competition will be known as the UK Wine Awards and will be a more consumer-facing event than the old English and Welsh Wine of the Year Competition. It has new sponsors and will have a higher profile, revised classes and a slightly earlier date, to allow results to be published for English Wine Week. Details will be publicised shortly.


Roger Eynon, a former SWVA member and steam rail enthusiast outlined a high profile English Wine Event planned for Midsummer’s Day at Avon Valley Railway’s HQ. Roger invited members to participate, free of charge, in showing and selling their wines. English Wine Producers will be taking a table to showcase award winners in the UK Wine Awards.


After the formal part of the meeting members enjoyed a delicious curry lunch and walked the Aldwick Court Vineyard with vineyard manager Elizabeth  Laver, while the committee met to plan for the year’s events.


Competition to find the SW Wine of the Year 2017

SWVA Competition judging

Judging 11 September

Judging took place today, Monday 11 September at Pebblebed Vineyard near Exeter for the South West Vineyards Association's  annual  competition for its members' West-Country-grown wines.

The team of six judges was led by Patricia Stefanowicz MW. Other judges were Lindsay Oram, Alastair Peebles MW, Tim Johnson, Gemma Mitchell and Richard Coulson. Wines are divided into classes: Dry white, with separate divisions for oaked wines and wines from the Bacchus grape, medium dry and medium sweet whites, rosé, red, sparkling and sparkling rosés. This year there were just over 100 entries, with more reds and less whites in comparison to past years.

Last year's SWVA competition was shown on BBC1's popular "Farmers' Country Showdown" series, broadcast in spring 2017, with Cornwall family-run vineyards Polgoon and Camel Valley featured as going head to head.

Results of the 2017 competition will be announced tomorrow, 12th September at a members' meeting and awards ceremony, also to be held at at Pebblebed Vineyard. Medals and a trophy will be awarded for each class. The highlight of the day is the announcement of the Wine of the Year, decided after a taste-off of the trophy winners. Watch this space for the results.

Wines are judged "blind" - each wine has its entry number on its neck and is shrouded in a black bag so that it is not identifiable by the judges. Numbers are known only to the competition organisers.

Pictured below are the judging team, and at the bottom the competition support team, drawn from the SWVA Committee and led by Alina Stankus


Alastair Peebles, Tim Johnson, Jemma Mitchell, Patricia Stefanowicz, Lindsay Oram, Richard Coulson.
Simon Boyce, Jane Awty, Kevin McGrath, Alina Stankus

SWVA's 2017 AGM and Spring Meeting to be at Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard near Bristol

SWVA members will be gathering for their spring meeting and 2017 AGM at Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard on 7th March this year by kind invitation of Sandy Luck. This is always a popular occasion for producers to escape the rigours of winter pruning and compare notes on progress.

As well as the formal proceedings there will be an update from Sam Lindo of Cornwall's Camel Valley Vineyards, until recently Chairman of our parent organisation, the UK Vineyards Association, on moves towards unity with English Wine Producers, the marketing organisation for the biggest commercial vineyards. Sam was responsible during his tenure as Chair for boosting the capacity of the UKVA to enable it to develop into a more effective trade association for producers, to fit the rising reputation and scale of the English wine industry. This has led indirectly to the current negotiations to become a single organisation.

Another outcome is a new, more consumer orientated, higher profile national annual competition, to be known as the UK Wine Awards, which is starting this year. Results are due in English Wine Week at the end of May. Members will be keen to catch up with the latest news on this as the entry date approaches.

Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard is at Redhill, close to Bristol airport.Aldwick_Court_Farm There are two vineyards, the first was planted in 2008 in approximately two acres of Homefield. Bordering the main drive to the Farmhouse complex, this was laid out with 2000 vines in blocks of Seyval Blanc, Early Pinot Noir, and Bacchus. In 2010, plantings were expanded into Woodlands, the south-westerly facing, hillside field overlooking Aldwick Lane.  Grape varieties here include Regent and Solaris, late ripening Pinot Noir, Seyval Blanc, and Bacchus – the 4th most widely grown wine grape in England. Together they total 8,900 vines spread over 9 acres.

Having failed to thrive, the 500 Homefield Bacchus vines were grubbed up and replaced in 2011 with 600 Madeleine Angevine – another ‘classic’ English wine grape.

Aldwick is a wedding venue, and aims to provide its own high quality wine for the enjoyment of its clients and their guests. It has been regularly winning awards since 2013, and in December landed a prestigious Silver Medal in Tranche 1 of the 2017 International Wine Challenge.

Members can find the programme and application forms in the Members Area/Notices and News for Members.


The New UK Wine Awards: Stellar Array of Judges taste 300 wines in Glamorous Hotel du Vin, Wimbledon

The New UK Wine Awards: Stellar Array of Judges taste 300 wines in Glamorous Hotel du Vin, Wimbledon


  UKWAlogo  Cannizaro_House 


A team of judges led by Oz Clarke and Susie Barrie MW (of the BBC's "Saturday Kitchen") tasted over 300 English and Welsh wines entered into the new UK Wine Awards on Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th May. The competition is sponsored this year by Waitrose, Hotel du Vin and Country Life magazine. Judging took place in the stunning Cannizaro House, Hotel du Vin Wimbledon. 

Judges included big names in the wine world including Hamish Anderson, Jane Parkinson, Christine Parkinson, Richard Hemming MW, Elizabeth Kelly, Alex Hunt MW, David Bird MW, Becky Hull MW and Rebecca Palmer.    


     Oz_Clarke_judging       Susie_Barrie  Oz Clarke and Susie Barrie

The UK Vineyards Association runs the competition and this year has, after consulting members, upped the profile of the event and made it more consumer-focused.

Results will be announced on 31st May and awards will be presented at a prestigeous event in the summer, venue and date yet to be announced.



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