Bumper harvest for Scilly’s wine makers

Posted on Oct 29th 2014
Holy Vale Winery - the vineyard

As the final grapes have been picked from the vines at St. Martin’s Vineyard and the Holy Vale Winery on St. Mary’s, both businesses are celebrating a bumper harvest in 2014 after a summer of fantasticly warm and dry weather. Which is great news for all wine lovers!

St. Martin’s Vineyard, owned by Val and Graham Thomas, produce five different wines – three white, one rose and one red - all from hybrid grapes including Orion, Seybal Blanc, Siegerrebe and the red Rondo that have been bred specifically to mature in slightly damper and cooler climates.

“We started our venture in 1996 as a holiday hobby on part of Dad's flower farm; we produced just 120 bottles in our first vintage back in 2000.  This year, we aim to produce 3,000 bottles,” says Val. “Picking by hand is labour intensive, but we love the traditional approach. Picking, sorting, de-stalking, pressing, filtering and fermenting is a long and often complicated process, but by the time we bottle up in March and get set for the new season, we know it will have been worth it!”

St. Martin’s Vineyard sells directly to visitors who can also enjoy wine tours and tastings throughout the summer.  The informative visitor centre charts the evolution and progress of the vineyard and winery over the past 18 years. St. Martin’s Vineyard also supplies local businesses on Scilly including St Mary’s Hall Hotel, Tresco Stores and New Inn, The Grapevine, Polreath Café, the airport and St Martin’s Store, and will also arrange to post any mail-order requests. 

Holy Vane Winery has been a labour of love for Robert Francis, owner of the Star Castle Hotel, for the last six years when he first planted 7,000 Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris vines across four sites on St. Mary’s.  He has just celebrated his first successful harvest under the guidance of well-known wine producer, Willi Opitz. 

“Now is a nerve-wracking time for me,” says Robert, following Willi’s return to Austria. “I am a novice wine maker and I anticipate long days and nights ahead in the winery trying to control the fermentations and temperature of the various wines! However, I do hope to produce some good wines ready for next season.”

Not only does Robert plan to add his own Pinots and Chardonnay to the Star Castle’s wine list in 2015, he also hopes to supply other hotels and restaurants across Scilly. “If there’s enough, we’ll also offer online mail order,” he adds.

As on St. Martin’s, visitors on St. Mary’s have this summer already enjoyed guided tours and tastings at the Holy Vale vineyard, which also plays host to an exhibition, the Story of Wine, telling the story of a year in the vineyard and the winemaking process.

So here’s to next spring when the wines will be ready to serve. We can’t wait!


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