When Fiona and Andy Mounsey began looking into the intricacies of running a vineyard deep in the heart of Pembrokeshire, little did they think that within seven years their Velfrey label would have earned recognition as one of the finest sparkling wines in the country.

This week the Velfrey Vineyard was told unequivocally that their wines truly are the best in Wales after being named Small Drink Producer of the Year in the prestigious Wales Food and Drink Awards, 2023.

“We’re still trying to get out heads around it - it’s just so incredible,” laughs Fiona in her beautiful west Scottish lilt.

“We were asked to do a zoom call with the judges in the run-up to the awards and had to give a five-minute pitch about why we should win. And that was so difficult for us to answer.

“Why indeed should we win, when there are so many other tremendous drink producers around us in Wales?”

But it didn’t take the judges long to single out the Velfrey Vineyard as the outright winner.

The judges’ decision comes as no surprise when you discover just how much care and dedication goes into the nurturing of their vines.

They’re sprayed regularly with seaweed extract and the extract of orange peel while the Mounsey’s son, Ryan, forages for wild nettles, comfrey and dandelions from which he makes a ‘tea’.

Needless to say, the tea goes nowhere near a teacup, but is drunk solely by those magnificent vines.

Western Telegraph: Ryan, Sophie, Fiona and AndyRyan, Sophie, Fiona and Andy (Image: Velfrey Vineyard)

“Every day is like a spa day for them and then of course they have the added advantage of growing them here in Pembrokeshire, where our summers are long.

“The grapes we’ve chosen have a long ripening period which means we don’t harvest until the end of October. And this adds a lot to their flavour.”

Fiona and Andie bought their property in Lampeter Velfrey in 2016 after their youngest son left home to attend university.

“We’d reached that time in life when we started looking for another project to run alongside our publishing company [Pentlands Publishing].

"Coming from the west coast of Scotland, I was keen to get back to the coast and when we visited Pembrokeshire, it just ticked all the boxes.”

In addition to the house, the Mounseys became the proud owners of a plot of land extending to just under two acres.

“It hadn’t been touched for years and so, after tasting some local Welsh wine that was beautiful, we started looking into the idea of establishing our own vineyard.”

They chose a particular grape variety that suits a sparkling wine and subsequently planted 3,500 vines.

Today the vineyard has expanded to 4,500.

Their award-winning wines are being sold in a number of local shops and delis including the Bay View Stores, Solva, the Little Pantry in Tenby, Fire and Ice in Narberth and St Davids Food and Wine. 

“We still have to keep pinching ourselves that this is actually happening to us,” added Fiona.

“And to be able to produce something that can be enjoyed by so many people from our fields in the heart of Pembrokeshire makes it even more special.”

Their wine can also be purchased online at http://www.velfreyvineyard.com/wines and regularly features on the wine lists at leading local restaurants.