Drink local: Holy Vale Winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Holy Vale Winery's vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 by local resident and hotelier Robert Francis who wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Holy Vale Winery’s vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 by local resident and hotelier Robert Francis who wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

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.

 

The winery has several parcels of vineyards across St. Mary’s Island on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom; these are located at the winery where we visited and had a tour and tasting

The winery has several parcels of vineyards across St. Mary’s Island on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom; these are located at the winery where we visited and had a tour and tasting

 

“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

 

The first vintage of Holy Vale Pinot Noir was 5 years after the vines were planted, in 2014; there was no wine made in the subsequent four years due to weather and loss of grapes to predators, so there are no tastings of recent vintages

The first vintage of Holy Vale Pinot Noir was 5 years after the vines were planted, in 2014; there was no wine made in the subsequent four years due to weather and loss of grapes to predators, so there are no tastings of recent vintages

 

Some of the wine making equipment at the Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Some of the wine making equipment at the Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

The wines from around the world that we tasted with winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

The wines from around the world that we tasted with winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom. Note that Robert was very gracious and generous and pulled a couple of bottles of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir from the winery’s “library” to taste with us; at 11.5% ABV (alcohol) – due to the cool weather on the island — the Holy Vale Pinot Noir was lighter that we are used to on the West Coast of the United State, but refreshing with good acidity and fruit.

 

Winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery in the vineyard with a bottle of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery in the vineyard with a bottle of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

The island of St Mary’s is the principal island in the group of islands off the coast of Cornwall, England, collectively known as the Isles of Scilly – these boats were moored just outside the small working harbor of Hugh Town, St. Mary's main port

The island of St Mary’s is the principal island in the group of islands off the coast of Cornwall, England, collectively known as the Isles of Scilly – these boats were moored just outside the small working harbor of Hugh Town, St. Mary’s main port

 

Together, the populated islands of St. Mary’s, Tresco, St. Martin’s, Bryher, and St. Agnes, along with over 1,000 other very small uninhabited islands – some being virtually rocks rising from the ocean — form the unspoiled and peaceful Isles of Scilly that lie off the coast of Cornwall.  Located just 38 miles off Land’s End (the southwestern tip of England), the Isles, part of the United Kingdom, are a beguiling and remote archipelago a world away from the rest of England.  On the first day of our visit we docked off St. Mary’s Island (year-round population of approximately 1,800 people) and took a tender into Hugh Town, the island’s main port and principal city.  After walking through the small shops, restaurants, galleries and homes in Hugh Town, we took a morning hike around the 2.5 square mile (6.5 square kilometer) island.

 

As we began a morning hike around the 2.5 square mile (6.5 square kilometer) island, we walked through the small shops, restaurants, galleries and homes in Hugh Town, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

As we began a morning hike around the 2.5 square mile (6.5 square kilometer) island, we walked through the small shops, restaurants, galleries and homes in Hugh Town, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

 

Walking around St. Mary’s Island we came across many outcroppings, Isles of Scilly, England

Walking around St. Mary’s Island we came across many outcroppings, Isles of Scilly, England

 

One of the highest points on St. Mary’s Island was this rock outcropping, Isles of Scilly, England

One of the highest points on St. Mary’s Island was this rock outcropping, Isles of Scilly, England

 

Due to the high winds on St. Mary’s Island, farming plots are fenced in by stone walls, Isles of Scilly, England

Due to the high winds on St. Mary’s Island, farming plots are fenced in by stone walls, Isles of Scilly, England

 

A lighthouse on the coast of St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

A lighthouse on the coast of St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

 

This area, beyond the lighthouse, had the largest rock outcroppings on St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

This area, beyond the lighthouse, had the largest rock outcroppings on St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

 

Farms just outside of Hugh Town, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

Farms just outside of Hugh Town, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, England

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.