Welsh dragonHaving the nickname 'David The Water Drinker' tells you all you need to know about the Welsh patron's saint view on alcohol. But that hasn't stopped Wales' thirteen vineyards getting on rather nicely without his blessing. From the far south in The Vale of Glamorgan right up to Anglesey, vineyard sales are flourishing. So why not join in the celebrations this Saint David's Day on Tuesday and open a bottle of Welsh wine.

Some of the best Welsh wine is made by Martin Seed at Worthenbury Wines (Tel 01948 770257) near Wrexham. To ensure his grapes fully ripen, Martin grows his crop undercover in huge plastic sheeted polytunnels. The layer of polythene concentrates the sun's warmth and ripens his red and white grapes with enough sugar to ferment to alcohol levels of twelve percent.

Grown in the open, the grapes would rarely make it past the spring blossom stage: Welsh frosts would kill the blossom so putting a stop to a grape harvest in October. Warmer areas of Wales can grow grapes quite successfully in the open, but they rarely ripen with enough sugar to ferment above 9 or 10% alcohol: this leads to the characteristic under-ripe flat taste that plagues many UK-grown wines.

So choose wisely and look for Welsh wines with alcohol levels of 11% and over. Then your lightly chilled white will tastes lusciously of hazelnut, lime and sesame seeds and not of cardboard.

Welsh wines online

Ancre Hill Vineyard, Monmouth

Started in 2006, there is now 9 acres grapes planted over two sites on the outskirts of Monmouth town. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Triomphe grapes are grown to biodynamic principles. White and rosé wines available now but you’ll have to wait until 2014 for the sparkling.

Sugar Loaf Vineyard, Abergavenny

Seven grape varieties planted over 5 acres. White, rosé and sparkling available but the red is currently out of stock. Buy wine and cheese gift sets online.

Glyndwr Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan

Established 1982, Glyndwr grapes are used to make two whites, a rosé, red and two sparkling wines – some of which have been drunk at House of Lords’ banquets. Buy online in 6 or 12 bottles.

Jabajak Vineyard, Carmarthenshire

No wines yet available as the first harvest was only last October, so the grapes may not have even finished fermenting yet. While waiting for the wines why not visit their restaurant?

For a complete list of Welsh vineyards visit English Wine Producers

This article has appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on Mature Times