The all singing hills of the Welsh Valleys come alive with not only the great and legendary Tom Jones, but these days are alive with acres and acres of vineyards and ex-Londoners swapping the rat race for a piece of the green life - green also meaning the tourist dollar!
Not all the vineyards will have wineries attached to them and vice versa, but there are a good handful of places that you can certainly map out and spend a few days driving between and staying in some gorgeous B&Bs along the way. One of my favourite and most memorable is Cwm Deri Vineyard and Winery.
Each time we visit friends in Lawrenny we drive past the entrance to Cwm Deri Vineyard and every time we seem to keep driving. Planning our honeymoon made us promise to put this place on our agenda. We spent the first week of our honeymoon out of two in sun drenched Cannes. Week two was driving through Pembrokeshire in Wales and exploring the Welsh Vineyards.
The Cwm Deri wines are sweet and strong, and I could taste vanilla and smell honey. The countryside surrounding the vineyard is lush and dreamy, and the food is made on site and according to Mr Smith is very good.
There is no entrance fee (unlike most tourist attractions) and we are left to wander through the acres of vineyards, picking wild black berries and eating them. We wander past a sleepy dog and some amazingly fat chickens which are the butt of a few good jokes between Mr Smith and myself...and I take some great photos.
We seem to look at the rows of grape vines like instant experts. The leaves are green and we can see some fruit blossoming - I'm sure this is what is supposed to happen.
All paths lead back to the restaurant and shop full of home made jams, dressings and relish. The estate owners have surprisingly relocated from London and one of them is originally from Spain - now Spain makes a good wine or two, so I am now really excited to taste the Cwm Deri samples.
We choose the wine taster selection of 24 samples. It is surprising how little I need to feel quite tipsy as there isn't anywhere to spit, you just swallow the lot. Each of the cups is placed by the name of the wine, and you are very much left on your own to get on with your tasting at your leisure, but I'm not convinced. I think it would have been better for our hosts to be close to answer questions and give me a fact or two about what we were drinking.
Instead we bombard the poor waitress with all of our questions. Between us, we settle on the after dinner cream and their sweet port. All bottles are 750ml and the vineyard will arrange delivery in the UK and beyond. Good to know for the future - but for now we buy 12, oh and some jam and relish, and some more jam and then some more relish.
After a few of these I need food. Unfortunately there wasn't a thing on the menu that I could have - sandwiches, baguettes, scones and cakes. After speaking with one of the owners about what they could do for me, he offers to make me a Spanish omlette made from the eggs of the big fat chickens outside. It was great.
It is the way that making me the omlette wasn't a problem that has Cwm Deri on the blog and that the wines that they make on site are really tasty. Put it on your list of things to do!