The South West's internationally acclaimed winemakers are coming to town

The South West’s internationally acclaimed winemakers are coming to town….. 


Following the resounding success of its first trade tasting last year, the South West Vineyards Association is holding a  trade tasting in Bristol on May 5th 2016 from 3pm to 5.30 pm  with a public tasting to follow. This year it will be part of the Bristol Food Connections event, and will be held at

The Boardroom, Market Chambers, 20 St Nicholas St, Bristol BS1 1UB

Guy Smith SWVA Vice Chair commented

“Many people aren’t aware that there are many prestigious vineyards in the South West run by passionate people making great wines that regularly win multiple awards including  UK Winemaker of the year, UK Wine of the year and Worlds Best Sparkling Rose. We have a huge range of soils that are perfect for world class wine making but because many of our vineyards are small family run concerns, we don’t necessarily get the same attention as some of the big names elsewhere”.


The tasting will encourage Bristol venues and trade outlets to look carefully at their wine list and to include some of the fantastic English wines being produced in their region and that the public tasting will help Bristol wine fans to know more about their excellent wines produced on their doorstep.

Details are – Trade Tasting 15.00 – 17.30
Consumer event 17.30 – 19.30 60 people, £12 per ticket for six tastes.

Participating vineyards are

Oatley Vineyard, Cannington, Somerset
Dunleavy Vineyard, Wrington, North Somerset
Furleigh Estate, Salway Ash near Bridport, Dorset
Wraxall Vineyard, near Shepton Mallet, Somerset
Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard, Redhill, North Somerset
Smith & Evans, Aller, near Langport, Somerset
Camel Valley Vineyard, near Bodmin, Cornwall
Sutton Ridge Vineyard, Redhill, Somerset

A link to the poster for the public event is here.


Julia Trustam Eve who heads up English Wine Producers (EWP), the marketing body for English wine commented: “English wine is on the rise – in production, sales and consumer engagement. With demand from across the country we want to make English wines feature more prominently outside the South East. Bristol is a fantastic market, with a thriving food and drink culture that is dedicated to supporting quality local producers.

“This is a great opportunity for more of the trade and members of the public in the region to get to know the great wines made on their doorstep.”

“Last year the SWVA held a fantastic trade event in Bristol which attracted more than 100 people including representatives from all of the local Michelin starred restaurants and received some great feedback”..

English wines continue to gain popularity across the trade, from high street retailers to high end restaurants. The industry itself is growing; the area of vineyards in the UK has doubled in the last seven years and now stands at more than 4,900 acres, or 2,000 hectares.

The event is being produced by the SWVA in collaboration with Bristol Food Connections and “The Boardroom”.

The SWVA will also be running a similar event in Exeter later in the year that will feature more Devon and Cornwall vineyards. Details to folow.

The SWVA is a region of the UKVA representing vineyards in the south west of England and the Welsh borders.


Notes to editors

Please contact Guy Smith, vice chair of SWVA, for more information: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

SWVA Summer Meeting at White Castle Vineyard, Monmouthshire

Members meet in Historic Welsh Barn



SWVA Members gathered at White Castle Vineyard at Llanvetherine near Abergavenny in record-breaking hot weather on 1st July. Hosts were Robb and Nicola Merchant. Their historic Croft Barn has recently been restored with help from the Village Alive Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund and made a delightful venue for the formal talks: cool and puctuated by the twittering of swallows, nesting in the rafters.

First up was Joe Perry of Sutton Winson Ltd, pictured above speaking on Vineyard Insurance. Sutton Winson are one of the UK’s leading I ndependent insurance and risk Management companies. He used the recent alarming burglary at Bolney Vineyard in Sussex to illustrate the risks members need to consider. Jonathan Mosedale of the Environment and Sustainability Institute, Exeter University was next. Jonathan_Mosedale_U_ExeterHis team has received a grant to produce high resolution maps describing how climate-related risks vary across the South West under present conditions and future scenarios. Vines are an interesting climate indicator species growing at the limit of their range in Britain. The aim of the research is to understand better how climate change could affect viticulture and winemaking in the south west, identifying how any change in weather patterns might affect results and what measures could be taken to manage risks and use opportunities. Jonathan presented the results of temperature data logging, expressed as degree days, at a "well-known vineyard in Cornwall" showing how microclimate can vary considerably from average temperatures for the area and generally shows a greater range. Jonathan circulated a questionnaire about weather-related risks to vine cultivation and asked for volunteers for further vineyard monitoring. The team intend to share results from the project with wine producers via the web.

SWVA Chair Ian Edwards then reported on the UKVA organisational change, with progress in the Marketing project group. He ran through the reasons for change: which the group sees as: the current lack of capacity of the UKVA centrally to meet the demands placed on it, the increasing size and "mainstream-ness" of the industry, the increasing scale of supermarket sales with the greater need for robust systems for regulation and provenance, the need to lead not just react, to use resources in a better-planned way and most importantly the need to maintain premium pricing as volumes increase by promoting demand to keep ahead of supply. At present, far from leading, the UKVA is struggling even to react. For example current demands include updating the quality schemes, contributing to EU wine debates, enforcement regulations, establishing a marketing strategy and promoting research. The UKVA just does not have the means to tackle these. Mike Paul is continuing to lead the group and looking for ways to fund the marketing strategy development.

The group has come up with a provisional aim to establish England as a sustainable wine region of world reknown. Their SWOT analysis identifies as key strengths the premium price, high trade and media interest, growing consumer interest and a strong international brand for British produce. Weaknesses were chiefly a poorly defined generic brand. Opportunities included untapped potential in the UK market. Threats included potential discounting if demand does not keep place with supply and lack of marketing skills within the industy. The use of "English" in the Aim provoked discussion of the recent problems over the Welsh Wine PDO apparently requiring wines to be made within Wales. Currently most Welsh Vineyards use Three Choirs winery, just over the border in Gloucestershire. Ian explained that this was essentially a mistake that had derived from an incomplete copying of the EU original rules into UK enabling legislation, which DEFRA are currently working on sorting out. Robb responded with thanks for Ian's work on this issue.

A splendid salad lunch was served by Nicola at the vineyard's "Cellar Door" accompanied by White Castle's award-winning white, rosé and red wines. The new bar and terrace had welcome parasols to protect members from the heat of the day while they enjoyed the opportunity to catch up and swap notes about the progress of the season.

A tour of the vineyard followed. Robb explained how he and Nicola have developed the vineyard one step at a time since buying the 12 acre smallholding at auction in 1995. They converted the milking parlour into their home a year later but it was 2008 before the dream of owning a vineyard become a reality. The 5 acre gently sloping, south facing field adjoining the property came up for sale in an affordable lot, they bought it, soil tests were performed and vines ordered. Robb and Nicola took a viticulture course at Plumpton College. Robb used his former experience as an agricultural contractor to put tup the trellising system with family help and a tractor post knocker. Nicola quickly learned to drive the tractor! The trellis is set up as Scott Henry but they have decided in the current season to revert to double Guyot until the vines are stronger. The first harvest was 2011.  








Recently restored and opened Croft Fam Barn, overlooking the vineyard, where the meeting took place is a historially important cruck framed 16th Century barn with open wattle panels, restored with grant aid and now forming a handsome galleried function room for the vineyard. More information  on White Castle's website here>>



SWVA set to repeat trade tastings in 2016

Committee meets at Manstree Vineyard to plan 2016 programme

The SWVA Committee met at the Boyce's at Manstree, Shillingford St George near Exeter on 2nd December to plan the programme of events for next year, and to hear the Chairman, Ian Edwards (Furleigh, Dorset), report back from the council meeting of our parent organisation, the UK Vineyards Association at which its future organisation had been discussed.

2016 Events

The AGM and Spring Meeting for SWVA members will be at the beginning of March, probably 8th, in the north of the region. The Competition will be in September again, probably in Cornwall, but the Committee propose an AGM discussion about maybe moving it back to the winter, the following year, to avoid the busy pre-harvest and back-to-school period. The growth of the competition has meant we need to explore expanding the panel of judges for 2016.

Discussions about a summer meeting or event are ongoing.

Local Trade Tastings to be taken forward for 2016

Perhaps the key decision was to endorse the local Trade Tastings as a feature to be taken forward. They were held as an experiment in Bristol and Exeter in 2015, and judged a success by participating vineyards and the invited attendees from the trade. Guy Smith will be leading on the 2016 Bristol trade tasting and Faye Pratt on Exeter. 

Social Media

Our @SWVineyardsUK twitter feed is now up to 600 followers including many wine journalists, bloggers and people from the wine trade. The "Buy SW Wines Online webpage" seems to be generating quite a few referrals. However the site software is creaking and really needs updating, and Simon Day no longer has the time available. The Committee will explore possible ways forward.

Cathie Rolinson agreed to take on the development of a community Facebook page for SW vinegrowers.

UK Vineyards Association Organisational Change

SWVA Chair Ian Edwards reported on the changes proposed for the UKVA organisation. Sam Lindo, Chair of the UKVA wrote to members on the same day explaining the proposals. They are to strengthen the UKVA's governance before progressing any merger with English Wine Producers, the marketing organisation for larger producers, which had been an aim at the start of the project. The UKVA is to recruit a CEO, in addition to its secretary, and create an elected management committee meeting 6 times a year and a marketing task force to manage UKVA marketing activities more actively. The proposals will be put to the UKVA AGM on 11th February.

Committee Changes

There have been some changes to the SWVA Committee. Sam Lindo (Camel Valley, Cornwall) and Judith Dudley (Parva Farm, Mon) have decided to stand down, Sam in view of his commitments as Chair of the UKVA. The Committee thanked them for their contribution. Robert Cowley (Cowley Estate, Glos) has joined the Committee as Editor of the Association's biannual magazine, The Vine Post. Previous editor Alison Routh (Wellhayes Vineyard, Devon) remains on the committee. Cathie Rolinson (Lovells Vineyard, Worcs), has taken over from her husband John.

A tour of Boyces at Manstree

After lunch kindly provided by Mrs Boyce committee members enjoyed a tour of the vineyard led by Simon and Tim Boyce, including seeing the oldest commercial vines in Devon, 36-year-old Madeleine Angevine and Seyval Blanc, originally planted by Gerry Symons, founder of Manstree Vineyard and for many years a former Chair of the SWVA. The Boyces have made significant new plantings of grapes that are now sold to other estates, and they buy in wine from these estates to sell in their shop. They also grow 8 acres of soft, some top fruit and flowering plants.


boyces1    boyces2


Rendezvous at Exeter: Another SWVA Trade Tasting Success

Exciting times in Exeter….

Exeter Trade Tasting 2015 general view

On 22nd June the other end of the SWVA region, the south west, took its turn to run an inaugural Trade Tasting of English Wines, this time in Exeter. Jemma Mitchell, owner of the Rendezvous Wine Bar and her sister Rebecca Mitchell, both passionate promoters of local wines, provided the venue and supported the event.

Eleven vineyards presented their wines, from Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. They were, from Devon: Eastcott, Lily Farm, Lyme Bay, Pebblebed, Redyeates, Sharpham, Sidbury and Torview; from Cornwall: Polgoon and Trevibban Mill and from Dorset: Furleigh.

Nearly sixty people came to try the wines, mostly from Devon but also a few from further afield. The event was organised by Faye Pratt (Lily Farm) and Hilary Waller (Eastcott). It follows on from the north of the region's first event, held recently in Bristol. Following a similar model, Faye and Hilary encouraged all of the producers to share information about their trade contacts so that invitations came centrally on behalf of the SWVA. All the vineyards, the venue and the SWVA, helped with publicity.

Rebecca Hansford of Furleigh Estate, who attended both events, said, "Exeter had a great buzz about it from the start, with good quality attendees coming from the right sort of places." Established winemakers included Duncan Schwab of Sharpham who voted it an event well worth coming to. For many it was the first time that they’d ever done anything like this and an exciting new experience.

The venue was busy right from the start at 2pm. It was scheduled to run until 5pm but Hilary reported, "We were still showing the last people out at 6pm. There was a lot of interest in all the wines and our timing seemed to be spot on for this, our first Trade Tasting. Joining forces to show our wines is an efficient way of reaching a wider audience and makes it much easier for people in the Trade to find us."

Susy Atkins, wine writer and BBC Saturday Kitchen presenter, tweeted, "Excellent @SWVineyardsUK tasting at @RendezvousWBar - discovered some new South-west gems. Thank you!"

The event in pictures:

Exeter Trade Tasting 1 Exeter Trade Tasting 2 Exeter Trade Tasting 3 Exeter Trade Tasting Richard Waller IMG_4292 Exeter Trade Tasting Faye and Alan Pratt Exeter Trade Tasting Ken Bennett Exeter Trade Tasting Sidbury Exeter Trade Tasting - Lyme Bay Exeter Trade Tasting general 2


IWC 2016 Tranche 1 Results: Congratulations to Wraxall!

Silver for Somerset's Wraxall Vineyard in Tranche 1 of the International Wine Challenge 2016


IWC-2014-StickersCongratulations to Wraxall Vineyard for the best results in the South West in Tranche 1 of  the International Wine Challenge 2016. Wraxall were awarded a coveted Silver Medal for their Somerset Sparkling Rosé 2013, which also won a Bronze in Verona's prestigious Bollicine del Mondo where Hambledon Vineyard was the only other English award-winner.

Wraxall's Jacky Brayton and Brian Shirley said, "We are very pleased to be part of the Southwest success story."

English entries to Tranche 1 small in number but high in quality

For English wines the first tranche of this major worldwide competition has historically attracted fewer entries than Tranche 2, whose 2016 results will be announced next May. This year's Tranche 1 saw an unusually high standard for English entries though, with a Gold to Hart of Gold, a Sussex producer for their 2010 sparkling, an uusually high proportion of 12 Silvers, 8 Bronzes and 7 Commended, mainly awarded to producers from the South East.

Bronze medals for Dunleavy, Eastcott and Yearlstone

Other South West awards were:

Bronzes for Ashbury Brut 2013 from Devon's Eastcott Vineyard, for North Somerset's Dunleavy Pinot Noir Rosé 2014 and Devon's Yearlstone Number 5 2014.

Commended for Eastcott, Redyeates and Lily Farm

Commendeds were awarded to three Devon vineyards: Eastcott for Furzehill 2014, Redyeates for Seyvor 2014 and Lily Farm for their Rosé 2014.

Well done to all award winners but especially those carrying the flag for the South West..





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