When you think of vineyards around the world a lot of warmer climates and mini break destinations maybe come to mind first rather than Irish wines.
Ireland, with its rugged scenery and weather, may not be the first country you think of.
Irish wine is wine grown and made in Ireland. Although Ireland may be a much smaller winemaking region in comparison to France or New Zealand, it is still producing some really interesting and special wines grown in a northerly climate.
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What Is Irish Wine?
Simply, Irish Wine is wine where the grapes have been grown and fermented into wine in Ireland.
But where in Ireland is Irish wine made?
Where Is Irish Wine From?
There are only a small number of vineyards in Ireland and they can mostly be found in:
- County Cork
- And Lusk in North County Dublin
Ireland may be known as one of the rainier islands, but this isn’t always a bad thing for growing vines.
And paired with the south-east aspect of these regions the vineyards are guaranteed a healthy dose of sun to help the grapes grow and ripen.
And who knows, with the continuation of climate change we may see more and more vineyards pop up in this unassuming wine region.
But how did vines get introduced to Ireland in the first place?
And how long has Ireland been making wine for?
History of Irish Wine
Monasteries play a crucial role in the history of European wine making.
Monasteries - The Origins of Irish Wines?
Self sufficiency and manual labour were important requirements of being a monk and lots of monasteries had their own vineyards.
These vineyards allowed them to make and sell wine, as well as providing wine for their own ceremonies and personal consumption.
In the 5th Century AD this trend arrived in Ireland where a Cistercian Monastery based in County Kilkenny planted a vineyard and started making their own wine.
Other monasteries followed suit and soon Irish monks were growing grapes and making wine all over the country.
As part of their role, Monks would travel to spread the word of their Church and practice and they would also share their winemaking and viticultural knowledge with other monasteries.
History To Modern Day Wine Making in Ireland
Over time the winemaking scene in Ireland became so strong they started supplying wine to other countries such as England, to help fuel their battles against Wales and Scotland.
As Ireland moved out of the Mediaeval period, the dissolution of the Monasteries saw lots of these vineyards being destroyed or sold into private property and very few vineyards surviving to this day.
But the Irish vineyards that remain are still going strong, adapting the grapes they grow and their viticultural practices to the tricky Irish climate.
What Grapes Are Grown In Ireland?
So what grapes are used to make wine in Ireland?
Ireland is one of the most northerly wine making countries and in order for grape growing to be a success in this colder climate the grapes need to be chosen and grown with great care.
The damper and colder conditions in Ireland mean that most European varieties would struggle to grow successfully here.
However there are some grapes that do grow well in Ireland:
- Rondo is a good example of a wine grape grown in Ireland to good results. Rondo is a hybrid variety that was designed to be hardy, disease resistant and ripen early, which makes it a fantastic option for growing red grapes in the Irish climate.
- Other examples of grapes which can grow well in Ireland are Regent, Solaris, Phoenix and Madeleine Angevine.
A lot of grapes that grow successfully in Germany and England will have high chances of success when grown in Ireland too, as they all share similar climates.
6 Irish Wines & Wineries For You To Try
Here are some examples of Irish wine for you to try at home and the best examples of winemakers in Ireland.
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- Thomas Walk Winery: Priding itself on sustainable winemaking practices, Thomas Walk Winery was founded in the 1980s and is perhaps one of the oldest wineries in Ireland. Located in the South of Ireland, Thomas Walk is making beautiful red wines with the grape variety Rondo using natural winemaking practices.
- Wicklow Way Wines: This winery, located in County Wicklow, is making very unique wines in that they aren’t using grapes at all. Wicklow Way Wines make wonderful alcoholic drinks using locally sourced berries such as strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Wine doesn’t get more unique than this.
- Lusca Irish Wines: Based in Lusk, Country Dublin, this winery was founded in 2002 and makes Irish wine using the grape varieties Rondo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lusca Irish Wines also has an orchard and uses it to make ciders and apple cider vinegars.
- Blarney Red: Made using Cabernet Franc and Merlot this is a red wine made by Irish Family Vineyards, who have been making award-winning wines in Ireland for over a decade.
- Dennis Davidson: This is a small scale winery and orchard making wines and ciders in the South West of Ireland.
- Bunratty Mead: Although not a wine, no list of Irish winemaking would be complete without a mention of Mead and this company makes some of the best Mead to be found in Ireland.
There’s a whole world of winemaking to be discovered in Ireland, so why not seek some out next time you’re there as a change from Guinness?
Before We Go...
We hope you enjoyed our article on Irish wines.
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