In the afternoon on St. Mary’s Island we joined a small group for a visit, tour and tasting at the Islands’ only winery, Holy Vale Winery. The winery and local vineyards are a project of local hotelier (and chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly) Robert Francis, who knows wines from around the world and wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly. Because production of local wines is so difficult and there is very limited availability, the winery’s second goal is to select some fine wines from around the world and introduce them to winery visitors (in lieu of tasting only local wines). The winery’s website notes: “Holy Vale Wines is a British family owned and run company, created to bring you a very special collection of some of the most exciting, delicious wines from around the world, featuring California [from the Francis Ford Coppola Family Winery, and others]. Our selection is driven by our passion for great wine that is ready to drink, offering exceptional value and quality.
“Holy Vale Vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 after a couple of years trying to beg, borrow or steal redundant farm land on St Mary’s. With co-operation from the Duchy of Cornwall and local farmers we were able to set about obtaining the land we had found that suited the planting of the vines, mostly sloping and facing south, to aid water drainage and aspect to the sun. These parcels of land are situated in Holy Vale, Maypole, Silver Carn and Helvear. It was not possible to obtain all the land together in one parcel, but that in some respects is an advantage because it will give diversity and different character to the wines.
“We carefully selected nurseries in Burgundy and Luxemburg to nurture the vines of our grape varieties grafted on to our rootstock. 7,000 vines were ordered of our selection, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. These were chosen instead of the normal, mostly German varieties that have traditionally been grown in the UK mainly for climatic reasons. Our choice reflected the commitment and quality that we wish to achieve, rather than quantity. Our resolve is to produce the most special wines, even though working with Pinot Noir is especially difficult.
“We are now producing, bottling and selling Holy Vale Wines, 2014 was our very first vintage. We offer tours of the vineyard and tastings of wines at the vineyard…”– http://www.holyvalewines.co.uk
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