Monday 16 September 2019

'It’s often something that tourists seek out before coming here' - New tour puts Irish wine making on the map

Brett Stephenson and Pamela Walsh of Wicklow Way Wines
Brett Stephenson and Pamela Walsh of Wicklow Way Wines
Managing Director Pamela Walsh and Production Director Brett Stephenson
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

“Us Irish may not equate our country with wine growing but it’s often something that tourists seek out before coming here.”

Pamela Walsh, who co-founded Wicklow Way Wines in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow with her husband Brett Stephenson, has recently launched winery tours to give visitors an intimate experience of their Móinéir wines.

“A couple of seasons ago, we just had people stopping by - mostly tourists - just knocking on the door. They’d been looking up wineries in Ireland and they came across us... but we weren’t set up for it. My husband would be pressing berries and he’s very accommodating and he’d say ‘oh come and I’ll show you’.”

“Given all the constraints on getting our produce to the general public, we thought this would be a great way to do it."

Móinéir strawberry, raspberry and blackberry wines feature on the wine lists of high end Irish restaurants like Chapter One, Aniar, Ashford Castle, Michael’s in Mount Merrion, and Neven Maguire’s MacNean House and Restaurant.

All the berries are grown on the east coast of Ireland, and around 150 small Irish strawberries go into each bottle of Móinéir strawberry wine.

Because the winery is indoors, tours can happen in the depths of winter or the height of summer. 

We had tours in January, February, March and April which we were amazed by. In the summer months it’s a different tour: we’ve started fermenting, you might see us pressing berries, we can’t guarantee it but there’s a good chance that’ll be happening in the summer.”

Visitors can see what happens during the year between the initial fermentation of the juices and the bottling of the finished wines. The wine is hand bottled, corked and labelled, and each bottle carries its own hand written number.

“We’re not a wine bar or a restaurant; it’s not the place that you can come and spend the evening. It’s about coming in, seeing what we do, and having a tasting afterwards,” Pamela explains.

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