Vale Vineyard – Gwinllan y Dyffryn, a pioneering vineyard in the Vale of Clwyd, is approached along a quiet, winding lane, deep in the heart of the Denbighshire countryside. Set against the backdrop of the hauntingly beautiful Clwydian hills, and with vast, open views towards the lonely moors of Mynydd Hiraethog to the front, it is hard to imagine a more picturesque setting.

Owners, Gwen and Rhys Davies, a local couple with farming backgrounds deeply rooted in this rich Welsh soil, bought Dre Goch Isaf farm in 2018. Determined to diversify, and noticing that the area was distinctly warmer and drier than the surrounding land, they decided that this micro-climate and the region’s superb terroir ticked a lot of boxes for growing vines. They went on to immerse themselves in learning the art of viticulture and wine making, and in 2019, a 5-acre field on the farm was cultivated and fertilised, and supporting posts and rabbit guards installed, in preparation for the planting of 8000 vines. Gwen and Rhys were careful to select grape varieties that have been specifically bred to thrive in cooler climates, requiring fewer growing days, and reaching optimal ripeness even at lower temperatures.

It took two and a half years before their first crop was ready, and though the couple had many fraught and sleepless nights, worrying whether the vines would grow and ripen, and whether people would even like what they produced, their debut wines were released in 2022 to immediate acclaim and success, with their Solaris (White) and Rondo (Rosé) both claiming top prize in their categories at the prestigious Welsh Vineyard Awards in the same year. Building on this success, their 2021 vintage Sparkling Rosé wine has recently scooped first prize in the 2023 Awards, and the couple plan to release this award-winning wine just in time for the Christmas celebrations this year. Vale Vineyard – Gwinllan y Dyffryn had further successes at the Awards with their Red Vale Reserve and Pinot Noir Still Rosé, both of which won third place in their respective categories.


Keen to minimise their impact on the environment and to encourage biodiversity, sustainability is a huge consideration for Gwen and Rhys, and they are proud of their low carbon footprint. Nutrient levels are kept at optimum levels to ensure the health of the fruit, and any prunings from the vines are mulched back into the ground to replenish any lost carbon. Once harvesting is over, Rhys’ trusty pedigree Llŷn sheep are brought in to graze the vineyard until around January or February, and they do an important job of keeping the base of the vines clear of weeds, whilst helping to fertilise the ground with their droppings.  The couple have recently been presented with an award for the care of their local environment by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (Elusen Cefn Gwlad Cymru), whose president is Jules Hudson, of ‘Escape to the Country’ fame.


Once the grapes are ready for harvesting, the vineyard is alive with the chatter and laughter of family, friends, and members of the local community, as they gather the luscious bunches of red and white grapes and place them gently into baskets. Though it is hard work, their efforts are rewarded with endless supplies of tea, coffee, and home-made cake, and at the end of the day, everybody gathers around in the Tasting Room to enjoy some hearty food and refreshments, and reflect on a job well done.

When they have been harvested, the grapes are transported to a Halfpenny Green Winery in Bridgenorth, Shropshire, for pressing. By February the next year, the resulting wine will have undergone its first fermentation, and it is at this stage that the characteristics of the individual wines are decided. At a tasting meeting with Clive and his team of winemakers, Gwen and Rhys discuss their different options, and decisions are made about how to proceed; for instance, it is decided at this stage if and how the wine is to be oaked, a process which can be done by dropping a ‘tea bag’ of oak chippings in with the wine, or alternatively, by using oak staves, which are placed in with the wine to give stronger flavour. Their Pinot Noir wine goes directly into an oak barrel, which lends smoky, complex flavours to the wine – the longer the exposure to the oak, the deeper and richer the taste.


Though they supply a small number of local stockists, most Vale Vineyard – Gwinllan y Dyffryn wines are sold during vineyard tours and tastings at the farm itself.  A visit to the vineyard is a delight throughout the year. Springtime sees the vines bearing buds and flowers, setting fruit later in the summer and becoming bunches of juicy grapes hanging from the vines in late summer and early autumn. Following a walk around the vineyard to learn about the grapes, their varieties, and qualities, and how they are cared for and harvested, guests are invited into the Tasting Room, a converted farm building which was originally built in around 1650. This atmospheric building, constructed of mellow red brick and with wonderful views across the Welsh countryside, was renovated and re-roofed whilst the couple were waiting for their first yield of grapes. It now houses a bar and trestle tables set out beneath impressive old beams and rafters, where guests can sample the various wines and enjoy a tasty platter of Snowdonia cheeses. Tours can be booked on-line, and gift vouchers are also available. The Tasting Room is available for private hire and is popular for hen parties and with local community groups.


In September 2022, Gwen and Rhys attended the annual WineGB Trade and Press Tasting held in London, run and organised by WineGB, a powerful trade organisation representing over 950 vineyards across the UK. Vale Vineyard – Gwinllan y Dyffryn wines attracted many enquiries, including interest from glitzy London hotel, The Ritz, and though they don’t yet have enough capacity to fulfil large orders, Gwen and Rhys are hoping to increase their yield in order to take trade enquiries and supply further afield in the future. Exciting times ahead!


Though they are the only wine producers in the lovely Vale of Clwyd, you may be surprised to learn that Vale Vineyard – Gwinllan y Dyffryn is just one of 30 wine producers across the whole of Wales. The Welsh wine industry, which has experienced a remarkable transformation in recent years, has seen an increase in the number of vineyards producing wines that are gaining worldwide recognition for their high quality and unique style, and rivalling those from more traditional wine regions.

As the first wine producer in the region, Vale Vineyard – Gwinllan y Dyffryn has quickly established itself not only for the exceptional quality of its wines, but also for the first-rate visitor experience it offers. The unique climate and terroir of Vale Vineyard – Gwinllan y Dyffryn, combined with the vision, expertise, and hard work of Gwen and Rhys, their wonderful volunteers, and their dedicated team of winemakers, have all contributed to the well-earned success of this latest Welsh vineyard.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *