Nestled among lush green pastures in the small village of Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan, Llanerch Vineyard is the perfect base for a visit to rural south Wales or to the Welsh capital, just a 20-minute drive away from the city centre. I stayed at Llanerch Vineyard during a recent press trip to south-west Wales with Food and Drink Wales and I was so impressed by my stay, I decided it deserved its very own post.
Besides a flourishing vineyard and boutique accommodation, Llanerch is a popular wedding venue with its own restaurant and bistro, and cookery classes are available in the neighbouring Angela Gray Cookery School. So, if you’re a food and wine enthusiast, you’ve certainly come to the right place!
Contemporary yet cosy accommodation
Llanerch Vineyard offers a range of five-star accommodation optins. The main farmhouse houses two luxury suites including the Cariad and the Junior, both of which have their own lounges, deluxe bathrooms, picturesque views over the vines, and a farmhouse room overlooking the courtyard.
A further seven ground floor rooms can be found next to the farmhouse, two of which are Superior Studios with their own lounges, while the other five rooms are tastefully furnished, comfy courtyard studios which can be interlinked if required.
I stayed in the courtyard apartment located on the first floor next to the farmhouse, which was so big and well-equipped that I could quite happily have moved in. The kitchen featured a fridge, complimentary water, tea and coffee-making facilities, microwave, a sink, plenty of worktop space, a chopping board, cutlery and, of course, a couple of wine glasses.
Lit by Moroccan-inspired wall lighting and handmade henna lampshades, the lounge was kitted out with a corduroy sofa bed, a solid oak coffee table, a chest of drawers complete with a mirror and stool that could double up as either a desk or a dressing table, and a dining table big enough to seat eight people – our whole group could’ve ate our dinner in there!
Meanwhile, the bedroom featured a double bed covered in a satin purple throw and cushions, a 28-inch flatscreen TV with Freeview and radio, and a hairdryer.
The en-suite bathroom was equipped with both a bathtub and a monsoon shower, and a large basin with overhead mirror, complete with luxury toiletries by The White Company, a heated towel rack and fluffy white towels.
A September stay at Llanerch Vineyard costs from £130 per night, based on two adults sharing one room. All room rates include breakfast and complimentary WiFi in rooms and communal areas.
Dinner at Llanerch Vineyard is served in the Cariad Restaurant and Bistro, which bears all the hallmarks of a typical fine dining restaurant – from crisp white tablecloths and napkins, to elegant silver cutlery and leather seating – while also retaining a somewhat casual, relaxed atmosphere.
The menu is spearheaded by classic Welsh and British dishes with a contemporary twist, crafted using fresh, local produce. I succumbed to the scallops with Granny Smith’s apple, celeriac puree, hazelnuts and sage, which had an unusual, yet pleasantly palatable flavour.
Torn between the Jamaican jerk chicken and the seared duck with duck bhaji, duck crackling, potato galette and spiced carrot puree for my main, I eventually opted for the latter. The lean texture of the juicy, pink-centred duck breast contrasted beautifully with the perfectly crisp crackling, while the bhaji was deceptively meaty, complimented by subtle spicy tones.
Meringue is almost impossible for me to resist when I see it on any menu, so dessert was an easy choice. Wafer-thin sheets of crisp white meringue were interspersed with fresh strawberries and encrusted with finely chopped pistachio, held upright at a sloped angle on the plate by white chocolate puree and sticky strawberry coulis.
After a lovely night’s sleep at Llanerch Vineyard, we tucked into a freshly cooked breakfast in Cariad Restaurant and Bistro (included in all room rates) with a choice of options including a full English breakfast, a bacon or sausage sandwich, and cereals, fruit, fresh juices and yoghurt. I wasn’t feeling overly peckish so I went for the bacon sandwich, served in a toasted sesame seed bun for extra flavour.
No visit to Llanerch would be complete without a tour of the vineyard! For just £12 per person, you can enjoy a 90-minute vineyard tour with wine tasting.
Named after the Welsh word for love, Llanerch’s own brand of wine, Cariad comes in five different varieties including the Cariad Sparkling Blush, Cariad Sparkling Brut, Cariad Dry White, Cariad Medium-Dry White and Cariad Rose. The wines are only available for sale at Llanerch, and still wines are priced at £20 per bottle, while sparkling wines cost £35 per bottle. All wines are also sold by the glass and for just £7.50, you can enjoy the ‘Taste of Cariad’ wine flight consisting of 50ml samples of three varieties of wine.
Vineyard tours operate between April and October, from 12.30pm until 5pm. To book, please call +44 (0) 1443 222 716 or email email@example.com.Our tour guide, Dee began working at the vineyard around 30 years ago, when it was still owned by co-founders, Peter and Diane Andrews, and she knew all there is to know about the history of the vineyard.
History of Llanerch Vineyard
As Dee revealed, Peter and Diane planted the first vines (of the Kernling variety, a hybrid of the Riesling variety) in 1986, after Diane read an article in The Guardian about about the rising success of British vineyards and travelled to Burgundy, France to to study viticulture. The first bottles of wine were produced in 1989, marking the birth of Llanerch’s Cariad brand of wine, named after the Welsh word for love.
The quality of the wines improved throughout the 1990s and in 1999, a crop of grapes were sent to Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire for a trial wine production. A blind-tasting of the wine revealed that it was preferred to the wine produced at Llanerch and in 2000, production moved to Three Choirs. By 2004, Cariad wines were available for purchase in the likes of Harrods, Selfridges and the Welsh Consistency of the Houses of Parliament.
A year later, Peter and Diane sold the estate to an intermediate owner, who went into receivership during the UK recession in 2007. Then in 2010, Llanerch was purchased by its current owner, Ryan Davies and his family, who lovingly restored the estate and revived the vineyards we can see today.
With its contemporary, classy decor and breath-taking natural surroundings, Llanerch Vineyard is the ideal base for stay in south Wales with friends, family or even that special someone. Be sure to stock up on Cariad wine while you’re there!