Kerry Vale offers vineyard tours with a difference. Choose from a fascinating wine tasting tour, a cheese and wine tasting experience, or a delightful afternoon tea, all including an informative and entertaining tour of the Shropshire vineyard. We’ve been talking to Nadine at Kerry Vale about their journey as a vineyard and the exciting experiences they offer.
1) Please explain your journey as 'Kerry Vale Vineyard' so far.
It all started back in 2009 after mum and dad purchased an old blacksmiths house, 16 extremely dilapidated buildings and 6 acres land.
The idea was to take the buildings down, renovate and perhaps extend the house. However before they could make a start they had to dispose of 50 years worth of contents! Due to the poor state of the house the property was demolished and they were given permission to rebuild back off the road, using the stone from the old house. Due to its 'ancient monument' status a watching brief was required to oversee the digging of the foundations.
Soon after buying the property, they decided to look into planting a vineyard! Consultants checked the site for suitability and suggested varieties to plant. 6000 vines later (planted by a German team of contractors)-Kerry Vale Vineyard was born in May 2010!
This summer (July 2013) saw the opening of our shop and visitor centre. We were fortunate to receive some grant towards the costs from the Rural Economy Grant which is administered by Defra. This enabled the erection and fitting out of a specially designed building on the site to offer vineyard tours and tastings as well as wine sales.
On a lovely day, (we've had plenty of those this year!) there's nothing nicer than pottering around in the vines, whether its pruning or tucking in - it really doesn't matter, it's quite therapeutic, a lovely way to while away a few hours.
Our day to day challenge is finding ways to make this into a successful business, we're so lucky to live in a sparsely populated part of the country, which is lovely, but it throws up its own challenges for all small businesses in the area.
2) What has been the biggest or most memorable event you've provided?
Appearing on Midlands Today earlier this year was rather exciting although the day the film crew arrived it was pouring down with rain! We've also discovered some rare Roman artefacts, such as a scribe, a broach and a small pottery ball which were told was part of a Roman game. We continue to find bits of pottery on the vineyard as we walk around which we always find fascinating.
We've also had a visit from Robert Plant lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Led Zeppelin who popped in asking for advice on planting some vines after his son had been on one of our tours!
3) Is there any inside information you can give us?
One of the ways to get the most from your experience with us, is to relax and take your time, you could even stay in the area for a few days (or even a week) The Welsh Border's where we are situated are fantastic walking country. The gardens at Powys Castle are wonderful - there's so many ways to spend a few relaxing days - if you are staying close you can always carry on tasting for a little longer or have a glass of your favourite wine from the 'tasting' on our patio, or in front of our log burning fire. Mellington Hall is a fab place to stay - best of all it's within walking distance. Montgomery is just three miles away - if you like walking you can get to us by walking Offa's Dyke (a national Walking Trail) without hardly touching the road.
4) Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you'd like to tell us about?
We currently have our wine made by award winning wine makers at Halfpenny Green Vineyard. In the future we hope to develop our own winery on site so we can produce our own wines and offer an enhanced experience with a more indepth insight into the wine making process to our visitors.
5) What would you say is your most frequently asked question?
People often ask us 'What made us decide to plant a vineyard? ' Our answer is always the same... "Too many glasses of wine one evening, and the idealistic notion of a tending a sunny vineyard and enjoying the delicious fruits of our labour!" In reality that may have been a bit of a romanticised ideal!
However, English wine is growing in popularity and the industry is flourishing as consumers realise its extremely high quality. We are confident that with our lovely custom built shop and historic location we can offer visitors a unique and interesting experience that will enable us to grow and prosper.
Kerry Vale also offer the following experiences: