“We strive to work within and in harmony with the ecosystem rather than attempting to radically alter and control it” (Jemma Vickers and Paul Rolt)
Hebron vineyard, located on the Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire border in the foothills of the Preseli mountains in West Wales, aims to present the consumer with “the true taste of this beautiful part of Wales”. Though only planted in 2010, its first release sparkling “Silver Lining” wine received Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in 2020, an indication of the quality of the Solaris grapes grown in the cool West Wales coastal climate. The wine, a “Quality sparkling Welsh Wine” is unblended using only grapes grown on the Hebron estate and cultivated using minimum intervention organic methods. After tasting Silver Lining, the buyer for the 300-year-old fine wine and spirits merchant, Berry Bros and Rudd, a former sommelier at the famous French haute cuisine La Gavroche restaurant in London and an authority on Champagne and Sparkling wines, Davy Zwy, said “I was really impressed with Silver Lining …it had something so few UK sparkling wines deliver – real drinkability”.
The vineyard, which is family-run, was planted by Jemma Vickers and Paul Rolt who had converted an established Andalusian vineyard and bodega (winery) into an award-winning organic one. After 9 years and with a young family they decided to return to the UK. so that their children could grow up amongst their UK family. However, planting 4000 vines and setting up an organic farm in West Wales poses challenges and requires very considerable effort, not least to counteract the year-round grass growth. As all of the vines are maintained manually with no use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilisers, it is hard work, but Jemma and Paul are confident that no petrochemical-based poisons leach into the grapes and hence the wines.
Not only do they practice non/zero intervention in their viticulture but in their winemaking too. In 2021/22 they partnered with Mountain People Wine’s David Morris, one of the UK’s finest Biodynamic and Natural winemakers. He is turning their white Solaris grape into a rare non-intervention Welsh wine using only the natural fermentation process. So, it will be a zero, zero wine – one with zero intervention in the vineyard and zero intervention in the winery.
In addition to growing grapes and producing quality wines, Jemma and Paul arrange wine tours around the vineyard. They enjoy showing visitors around, talking about wine and what they are doing, as well as offering wine-tasting. Additionally, they have converted an old dairy barn into a comfortable fully equipped self-catering holiday cottage that accommodates up to 8 people. It has two wood-burning stoves and its own spring water as well as tree swings, climbing apparatus, dens, streams, and ponds. It is intended not just to provide an extra income stream but to encourage families, small groups of friends, and couples to visit this spectacular area of rural Wales and to enjoy, in particular, the beauty of the coastline and Preseli Hills.
Naturally, Jemma and Paul are proud of what they have achieved and are achieving. They believe that “the pure unadulterated taste reflects the love and passion that goes into our work, the mineral-rich terroir of the Preseli foothills and the west coast cool climate”. Certainly, they are passionate about the quality and purity of their wines as well as preserving the natural environment and the balance of the ecosystem. Apart from addressing SDG 15 (Life on Land), they are addressing 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure), and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) plus 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
According to the Welsh Vineyards Association, on the Welsh Vineyards, “you can meet the men and women who throw their hearts, heads, and souls into their work all year round”. You certainly can at Hebron – and not just to “make as much money as possible” but to care for the planet and its people.
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