Raising a glass to Drinks Wales at the Royal Welsh
On the opening day of the Royal Welsh, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, launched the new marketing initiative Drinks Wales at a reception hosted by Welsh Government and the board of this new organisation.
Drinks Wales is a marketing consortium set up by and for the various arms of the active drinks industry in Wales. It aims to bring together the best of what Wales can offer, and act as a facilitator between producers and consumers, trade, export markets, press and government. This unique collaboration across the country’s wide and diverse industry, is driven by the understanding that working together must be better.
In Wales, there are now around 75 breweries producing over 50 million pints of beer a year; some 35 cider producers clocking up around 1 million pints of cider; a resurgence in Welsh vineyards with 17 vintners making 500,000 glasses of wine; and significant investment in the spirits sector, with Welsh whiskey in particular gaining worldwide prominence.
At the launch reception, Alun Davies AM welcomed this industry-led initiative and commended producers in Wales for working together to promote the quality produce that comes from Wales. He said ‘The food and drink produced here in Wales is first class’. In a short speech to launch the initiative, he commented that ‘Welsh Government are keen to support businesses in realising their ambition.’
Wales is blessed with some of the world’s finest landscapes, giving renowned pure water and lush pastures for our extraordinary Lamb and Beef. Welsh Cheese makers continue to impress everyone with their superb flavours and imagination. All sectors of our produce continue to grow in reputation, and Food Tourism as a concept is beginning to take root; Wales is ideally suited to be at the forefront this growing market. With discerning travellers looking for much more of an authentic experience when visiting Wales, the Welsh Drinks industry contributes significantly to ‘sense of place’, with locality and provenance important to both the producer and the consumer.
Around Wales the drinks industry has seen microbreweries, cider farms, vineyards and distilleries grow from just very small artisan businesses into more sustainable production facilities, but at the same time retaining the authenticity and craft base from which they grew. Many of the producers offer customers the full visitor experience with guided tours, tutored-tastings, and experience days often available. The nature of the industry lends itself well to engaging the visitor, and sets out greater opportunity for it to grow in this direction in the future.
Buster Grant, director of Brecon Brewing and current acting Chair of Drinks Wales comments ‘the future promises to be an exciting place. It is time to add to Welsh Drinks to the pantheon of Welsh achievements, to gather in the recognition and respect so overdue, to gain acknowledgement of achievements and awards; a far greater strike rate per company in each sector than in any other part of the UK. Let’s raise a glass… to Drinks Wales.’
A directory of producers and further information about DrinksWales is available on the website www.drinkswales.org