First Bottles Of St Mary’s Pinot Gris On The Cards For Easter

holy vale winery 2014 2Prince Charles could get his first bottle of St Mary’s Pinot Gris by Easter.

That’s the hope of Holy Vale Winery owner, Robert Francis.

But he says there’s still some way to go yet before he’ll know whether the wine will be good enough to serve.

Robert promised the Duke of Cornwall the first bottle five years ago, at a Duchy tenants’ lunch, shortly after planting his first vines.

His first batch of Pinot Gris, grown at Silver Carn, is currently undergoing fermentation. And it’s taken a lot of hard work to get it to this stage.

Robert spent several nights lowering buckets of ice into the vats to cool the wine after it got too hot and he’s had to monitor the temperature and sugar content on a daily basis.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem to have caused any harm. Willie Opitz, the Austrian winemaking expert who has been helping Robert, has tested samples and is “delighted” with the quality.

He says it hasn’t lost any colour or flavour so far.

It’s been a busy year for Robert, following the opening in June of his purpose-built winery and visitors’ centre at Holy Vale, which has become a popular tourist attraction on St Mary’s.

And in September, an invasion of birds threatened to ruin his crop of grapes. Luckily, he was able to find volunteers to help him put up nets to protect the vines.

But Robert says it’s been a steep learning curve and he won’t release his wine until he knows the quality is good enough.

The real test, he says, is people tasting it and wanting to buy a bottle.

He says he’ll remain cautious and “keep his feet on the ground” until the wine is ready.