White Castle creates a fortified first for Wales

A Welsh vineyard claims to have launched Wales’ first fortified wine.

White Castle, a vineyard based in Monmouthshire, is introducing 1581 to the market, a drink which it describes as being similar in style to Port.

The grapes are harvested and aged in the same way as Port and the result is a drink with an abv of 19%.

The company’s co-owner, Robb Merchant, said: Since we have had the vineyard it has always been a dream of ours to create a Welsh fortified wine. To make it you have to have a quality grape and we were just waiting for the right harvest and volume to be able to do it.”

Merchant, who is also the chairman of the Welsh Vineyards Association, added: “The quality of grapes harvested in 2014 allowed us to put aside a 225-litre barrel of Regent wine with which to make our Welsh fortified wine. The result is a drink that is light in texture, very fruity, and reflects what we do at White Castle.”

Available as a limited edition, a barrel has now been put away after each harvest and stored at the Three Choirs winery in Newent, which produces White Castle’s wines.

1581 takes its name from a grade II listed Tudor barn at the vineyard, which is situated in the village of Llanvetherine near Abergavenny and Monmouth.

Robb and his wife Nicola Merchant, who is White Castle’s co-founder, worked with local building preservation charity – The Village Alive Trust – to save the building and with funding from Cadw and the heritage Lottery Fund the Croft Barn has been restored. It is now used for a variety of events and talks about viticulture.

White Castle has had support from Cywain, a project which supports the development of new markets for growth orientated businesses in the agri-food sector.

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