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SWVA waffle and walk days prove a resounding success



31st July saw the second of the new self help meetings for West Country winegrowers instigated by Chair, Guy Smith.


This second meeting was at Wraxall Vineyard near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. It was well attended with over 30 of the region’s vinegrowers together with visitors from the Wessex Vineyards Association.


Discussion, at this crucial stage of a promising vintage, was of leaf-canopy management and disease and pest management, especially of how to deal with unwelcome newcomer, the Spotted Wing Drosophila, drosophila suzukii. This new fruit fly, originally from Japan, has spread rapidly across the country. It lays its eggs in unripe fruit, potentially spoiling an otherwise healthy crop of any soft fruit. Scary!


Wraxall Vineyard is one of the Region’s oldest, brought to life again by current owners Jacky Brayton and Brian Shirley after a fallow period. It is trained on Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) trellis. Brian talked about the pros and cons of the high-level, divided GDC training. The original vineyard had been GDC, and because of a large badger sett on neighbouring woodland, Brian and Jacky have continued with it for their extensive new plantings, partly to keep the grapes high up out of badger reach.




IntroductionsatWraxall Jacky_at_Wraxall


Members carried on chatting animatedly over a simple but delicious salad lunch that Jacky and Brian provided and that everyone chipped in for.


We were delighted to hear that WVA are copying these informal vineyard meetings. SWVA members are invited to their first, at Raimes Sparkling on 6 September.


The Region's first SWVA Waffle and Walk meeting was on 9th May at Guy Smith's own vineyard, Smith&Evans, at Aller, on a south facing slope with stunning views overlooking the Somerset levels, pictured below. Over 30 attendees included visitors from neighbouring Wessex VA including WineGB Chair Simon Robinson and WVA Chair Tim Ingram Hill. After introductions and a walk up to the highest point of the vineyard, discussion focused on vigour management, training systems, shoot selection and small vineyard management. Members, as at Wraxall, carried on chatting enthusiastically over lunch swapping experiences and tips.

SWVAWaffleAndWalkSmithEvans Guy_Smith_at_SmithEvans


AGM 2018: Aldwick welcomes winegrowers from across the West Country

English wine growers from across the West Country gathered at Aldwick Court Farm and Vineyard on Wednesday 14th March for the South West Vineyards Association Spring Meeting and AGM 2018.SWVA_spring_meeting_2018


Many thanks to Sandy Luck, General  Manager and Elizabeth Laver, Vineyard Manager, for their warm hospitality. Sandy is now the Vice Chair of SWVA.


This was Guy Smith’s first full meeting as Chair. Guy runs a small vineyard, Smith & Evans with his partner Laura Evans at Aller, Somerset, specialising in English sparkling wine from traditional Champagne varieties. In his day job he works in the wine trade internationally. Guy’s Chairman’s Report set out his vision for taking the SWVA forward in the context of a burgeoning English Wine Industry. We should position ourselves as what we are, mostly small, family-owned-and-run vineyards producing interesting, authentic, different wines.


The first guest speaker was David Parkinson, new Chief Executive of the SWVA’s national parent body, “Wines of Great  Britain” (“WineGB”). WineGB is newly-formed, the result of a merger between the former parent body, the UK Vineyards Association, with English Wine Producers, the marketing organisation  of the larger English wine producers.




David (photo left) emphasised the speed at which the industry is growing. A million vines were planted in England and Wales last year and this year could top two million. He outlined the work strands that are going on in the new organisation, many of them involving working groups of regional members, including SWVA members. He will be working with the SWVA in approaching local authorities and tourism bodies to ensure they are fully aware of the potential for tourism and economic development being created by  our West Country wine producers.


Over the excellent salad lunch provided by Aldwick Court Farm, Guy

Fizz_tastingorganised a sparkling wine blind tasting in Aldwick's tasting room (photo right). Members blind-tasted a Cava, a Prosecco, a supermarket English Sparkling Wine and three levels of supermarket Champagne: entry level, branded and own-brand vintage. The most-favoured was actually the vintage champagne, a 2009 vintage from Tesco. Only one  member identified all correctly (take a bow, Simon Day!).


Robin Snowdon, of Limeburn Hill Biodynamic Vineyard, near Dundry, Bristol, gave an excellent presentation on biodynamic viticulture and winemaking. Limeburn Hill is one of a handful of biodynamic vineyards in Britain and has just produced its first small vintage, all grown and made according to biodynamic principles. We are all looking forward to sampling their wines in due course to taste the difference.


At the formal AGM, Caroline Gitsham, Head of Marketing for Langham Estate near Dorchester was welcomed to the committee. Caroline will be taking over from Guy in participating in WineGB's marketing working group. Faye Pratt, Alina Stankus and Alison Routh stood down.


If you are interested in joining the SWVA and WineGB, check out the "About"" page of this website and contact Jo Cowderoy, Membership & Operations Manager at WineGB,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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.


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.


Herefordshire’s Castle Brook Wins SW Wine of the Year

Herefordshire’s Castle Brook Wins SW Wine of the Year


At the South West Vineyards Association Annual Competition, held this year at Knightor Winery near St Austell in Cornwall, Castle Brook Classic Cuvée 2010 won the top gold medal and trophy for the Sparkling White class, narrowly beating other gold medal wines from Camel Valley, Lyme Bay Winery and Sharpham. After a taste-off against gold medal winners from other classes, it was awarded the SWVA Wine of the Year trophy by the team of judges led by Patricia Stefanowicz MW.

Castle Brook had also won this prestigious award in 2014 with their 2009 sparkling wine, Chinn Chinn.

155 Wines entered




There were 155 wines entered for the competition, all produced by members of the SWVA. They were judged at Knightor on Monday 12th September by a team of seven judges, all qualified in wine assessment and including several experienced international competition judges. They awarded 10 gold medals, 36 silvers and 65 bronzes. The results were announced at a full members meeting and following an excellent awards lunch, the following day, Tuesday 13th September. The judging is pictured left.

Trophy Winners

Other  major trophy winners were:

Sharpham Estate, Devon – Best Dry White: “Sharpham Bacchus 2014”.
Trevibban Mill, Cornwall: Best Dry Oaked White,”Constantine 2014”.
Three Choirs, Gloucestershire, Best Non-dry White, “Cellar Door Noble Harvest 2014”.
Lovells Vineyard Worcestershire, Best Rosé, “Sonatina Rosé 2015”.
Stocklands Vineyard, Somerset, Best Red “Greenhill Estate Pinot Noir 2015”.
Camel Valley, Cornwall, Best Sparkling Rosé, “Camel Valley 2013 Pinot Noir Rosé”.

Non-commercial trophy winners were Westhope Hill  for the best non-commercial non-dry white and best non-commercial sparkling white and Northend Vineyard for the best non-commercial red. Tony Griffin of Northen Vineyard won the trophy for the best small-scale winemaker.

The Gillian Pearkes Trophy for the best contribution to the SWVA went to Alina Stankus for her work on the competition.

The Judges

The judges were Patricia Stefanowicz MW (Chair) who has led the judging for the SWVA competition foir a number of years, Lindsey Oram (WSET Diploima, AWE, IWSC judge), Jemma Mitchell (WSET Diploma and Educator), Tim Johnson (WoEWSA, WSET Diploma and Educator), Ed Adams MW (Wine Importer), Peter Csizmadia-Honigh (international wine judge), Richard Coulson (IWSC judge).

The SWVA Team


The SWVA team were Alina Stankus (SWVA Competition secretary, overall organisation), Simon Boyce (who prepared the bottles and organized the flights for judging) and Jane Awty (who entered the judges scores). Here (right) are Simon and Alina setting out a class of wines ready for judging, wrapped in foil to ensure anonymity.


Awards Ceremony

Before the awards, UKVA Chair Sam Lindo outlined to members where talks exploring unity with English Wine Producers, the marketing arm of the industry, had reached.

Patricia Stefanowicz reviewed the wines, noting that the medals Included wines from non commercial vineyards and some really impressed the panel. She commended the Reds - many were really successful, the trophy-winner almost gold medal standard and some good silvers. The rosés were really mixed. Balance is crucial in rosés, but there were good golds, silvers and bronzes. Dry whites were subdivided, with eleven in the separate class for the Bacchus grape and all got an award. That reinforces the suitability of the Bacchus grape for this climate. The top Bacchus was a finalist for Wine of the Year. A lot of so2 in the other dry whites, which made tasting difficult, but some were delightful.  The oaked whites were interesting, the judges enjoyed them, noting good, judicious use of oak. The medium dry wines were ok, but the medium sweet were glorious. Sparkling wines were superb, the whites stellar, 4 golds were awarded. The rosé sparkling were more mixed, the judges gave 2 golds - beware of too much dosage! Overall, Patricia commented, "SW wines are a constellation shining from the heavens!"

The individual awards were then announced by SWVA Vice Chair Guy Smith and presented by Patricia Stefanowicz with the help of Simon Boyce.

The day in pictures:

Knightor_outdoors Producers_in_the_wineryKnightor_Winery Winetastinglunch Sam_Lindo_Chair_UKVA Duncan_Schwab_Sharpham Liz_Mumcuoglu_Trevibban_Mill Ben_Hawker_Three_Choirs Mark_Thorp_Stocklands Sam_Lindo Tony_Griffin Alina_Stankus

Pictured above:

SW producers tour of the Knightor winery; the pre-lunch tasting of the competition wines; lunch in the Knightor restaurant; Sam Lindo speaking in his role as UKVA Chair pictured with Guy Smith, SWVA vice chair;  Duncan Schwab of Sharpham Estate receiving the trophy for best dry white from Patricia Stefanowicz;  Liz Mumcuoglu of Trevibban Mill receiving the Best Oaked White trophy; Ben Hawker of Three Choirs receiving the Best Non-Dry White trophy; Mark Thorp of Stocklands Vineyard receiving the Best Red Trophy; Sam Lindo of Camel Valley receiving the Best Sparkling Rosé trophy; Tony Griffin of Northend Vineyard receiving the Best Non-Commercial Winemaker trophy and Alina Stankus receiving the trophy for the best contribution to the SWVA.

Full results here>>

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