North West Wales

Pant Du vineyard in Gwynedd produces its first red wine

Richard Wyn Huws, owner of Pant Du vineyard in Penygroes
Image caption Mr Huws said he hopes to produce up to 12,000 bottles a year

A vineyard in a part of north Wales better known for its slate than its grapes has produced its first wine.

Pant Du vineyard, in Penygroes, Gwynedd, waited seven years for the 6,600 vines on its south-facing slopes to bear fruit.

The first 260 bottles of its 2010 red arrived aptly during Welsh Wine Week, 28 May to 6 June.

"We have a nice micro-climate," said owner Richard Wyn Huws, who uses slate waste to reflect heat onto the vines.

Mr Huws' family bought the farm in 2003 when it was being used raise livestock beef and sheep, and he said running a vineyard had always been his dream.

"It's ambitious indeed," he said.

"I don't come from a farming background myself so we weren't sure what to do with the farm.

"So we followed my dream of having a vineyard somewhere in the world. And we decided that somewhere would be Penygroes in the Nantlle Valley.

"It's a beautiful farm with fantastic rich soil at the bottom of a glacial valley. That all helped in persuading us to follow the dream and plant 6,600 vines."

A variety of vines have been planted on 8 acres (3.2 hectares) and in time the vineyard hopes to produce up to 12,000 bottles a year.

But the first successful harvest, based on a rondo grape, was described on the bottle's label as "a pleasant red wine from grapes sown on the South facing glacier slopes of the Nantlle Valley in Snowdonia".

"The climate here turned out to be fine," said Mr Huws, who named the vineyard after his 400-year-old farmhouse.

'Long journey'

"It tends to be very windy and there's a lot of rainfall here, but what we've done is we've planted alders and elderflower trees as windbreaks around the fields, and we're experimenting this year with nets to help us out.

Image caption Local B&B owner John Rowlands gave the thumbs-up to the wine

"We have also been experimenting with slate waste to reflect the sun from underneath the vines upwards.

"It's been quite a long journey - years of pumping money into the venture and nothing coming out.

"Hopefully from this year onwards we will getting repayment for all the work."

The vineyard plans to open its visitor centre in September and hopes to attract tourists to the area.

The 2010 Pant Du red won the support of local licensed B&B owner John Rowlands, who tasted one of the first bottles.

"To be quite honest I liked everything about it," he said.

"I liked the bottle, the branding. I like the way it sparkles in the glass. The colour is very bright and the nose is quite fruity.

Mr Rowlands said his customers would be delighted to be offered local wine.

"We try to get all our meats and produce locally, if possible organic," he added.

"I wouldn't buy a Welsh wine just because it's Welsh.

"To get wine from Penygroes is ideal if the standard is good, and my first impression is that it's a young wine and I'm sure it will get better with the years.

"I'd be delighted to have it."

Launching Welsh Wine Week, Welsh Government deputy minister for agriculture Alun Davies said: "Compared to some traditional wine growing regions Wales may be a relative newcomer.

"But in terms of quality and potential, Welsh wine is certainly making a name for itself at home and abroad."

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