Destinations UK

Exploring Wales – It’s Food And Drink Time

One of the surprising consequences of our worldwide travels is that we have grown to appreciate what we have on our own doorstep here in Wales. Not only do we enjoy rediscovering the local area ourselves but we want to share our enthusiasm with visitors to the UK and get more of you to cross that bridge and experience all that Wales has to offer.

If you want to find out more about visiting Wales why not watch our video – Our Top 5 Reasons To Visit Wales. You can also read more about the stunning South Wales coastline and beaches and our personal favourites in the post – Top 10 Places To Visit On The South Wales Coast.

Food & Drink Wales

On this trip, we were invited by Food & Drink Wales to revisit some of these beautiful Welsh destinations and this time experience the exciting range of local food and drink that Wales has to offer.

As well as the great local food and drink, we would also get the opportunity to meet with the farmers and local producers who share a passion for seasonal and fresh Welsh food and drink.

Jabajak Vineyard Restaurant With Rooms, Whitland, Carmarthenshire
Jabajak Vineyard

Jabajak vineyard on the border between Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire

The Jabajak vineyard and restaurant with rooms is only 20 minutes from Carmarthen and is easily accessible from the M4. Sitting on the border between Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire it is a perfect base from which you can explore the beautiful West Wales countryside.

With its 8 unique rooms, Jabajak is not only a tranquil place to stay, it has excellent food being highly commended in Gary Rhodes food hero campaign, Trip Advisor Winners of Excellence and recommended by the Good Food Guide.

The dishes are all prepared to order using locally sourced ingredients with many herbs and vegetables grown on-site in the kitchen garden or foraged. I actually tried nettle soup for the first time which was delicious, it tasted similar to spinach and if you’re still wondering, the nettles do lose their sting once cooked.

Not only do they serve good food, more importantly to me (Mr W) Jabajak has its own vineyard producing a white and a sparkling rosé under the original farmhouse name ‘The White House’.

Welsh Blush Sparkling Wine

Welsh blush sparkling wine. A delicate sparkling rosé produced from hand-picked Seyval and Phoenix grapes.

When it comes to British wines, like many, we mistakenly assumed it was an inferior product to its European neighbours but how wrong were we. In the last couple of years, we have tried some outstanding local wines, especially dry whites. The ‘White House’ wines from the Jabajak vineyard were no exception.

Although we are not big fans of rosé wines the sparkling Welsh Blush was great and perfect as an aperitif while walking through the vineyard before dinner.

Jabajak Vineyard Bedrooms

Our room, the Farmhouse Suite complete with four-poster bed.

Apparently one of the secrets to the success of the wine is the unique terroir of the West Wales blue stone region. This blue stone region is actually the original source of Stonehenge’s giant bluestones over 140 miles away.

Windmill Park Farm – Harvesting Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes
Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes

Farmer Will from Windmill Park Farm where there grow Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes

We love visiting Pembrokeshire for the same reasons the potatoes grow so well here, the mild, frost-free coastal climate thanks to the Gulf Stream. If you didn’t know Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes have a distinctive, strong, earthy, nutty flavour and have been awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission. This means only potatoes originating in the county are allowed to be called a Pembrokeshire Early Potato.

We were lucky to be shown around Windmill Park Farm during the harvesting by farmer Will Richards. The harvesting occurs from the beginning of May until the end of July.

His farm overlooks the picturesque St Brides Haven just yards from the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Better than working in an office although I think Mr Richards may disagree when the Atlantic winter storms roll in.

St Brides Haven, Pembrokeshire

Not a bad view from your workplace, St Brides Haven, Pembrokeshire

You can buy Will Richards’s Pembrokeshire Earlies under the ‘Blas y Tir‘ (‘taste of the land’) label. One of the best ways to try these potatoes is the simplest, boiled when fresh and served with butter, sea salt and chives.

The Gower Salt Marsh Lamb from Weobley Castle Farm
Gower Salt Marsh Lamb

The farm shop at Weobley Castle Farm on the Gower

After the potatoes, it was time for the meat (sorry to the vegetarians amongst you)! So we headed along the South Wales coast to the Gower Peninsula and Weobley Castle Farm, the home of Gower Salt Marsh Lamb. The farmhouse and its shop overlook the Loughor Estuary and the salt marshes where the sheep graze.

It’s these salt marshes which gives the meat its incredible flavour and makes it succulently tender. The marshes are covered with sea lavender, samphire, sorrel and thrift which give the lamb the unique taste sought after by leading chefs.

Gower Salt Marsh Lamb

The salt marshes where the sheep graze gives the meat its special flavour

After walking to the water’s edge which can be a very long way as the estuary has a large tidal range it was time to return to the farm. Thankfully the farmer, Will Pritchard brought down his trailer and using his sheep farming skills, herded us into the back of the trailer and towed us back to the farm while the puzzled sheep looked on.

You can buy Gower Salt Marsh Lamb from the Weobley Castle Farm Shop and it is also available to order online.

Salami HQ – Cwmfarm Charcuterie
Cwmfarm Charcuterie

Cwmfarm charcuterie, producers of award-winning salami

Another epicurean gem on our tour of South Wales was a visit to the Salami HQ, to meet Ruth and Andrew, the producers of award-winning salami Cwmfarm Charcuterie. All the charcuterie products come from their own Cwmfarm pigs based in the Swansea valley.

They combine the classic European salami styles and add a local twist such as in our favourite, the  Laverbread Salami. You may have noticed Nduja appearing on more menus lately, Cwmfarm also produces their own award-winning spicy Nduja which is perfect spread on toast as well as an ingredient in other dishes.

So armed with a selection of charcuterie we now headed to Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff for some serious wine pairing. It sounded like a hard afternoon of sun, wine and eating but someone has to do it.

Wine, Cheese And Charcuterie Tasting At Llanerch Vineyard
Wine and Charcuterie

Wine and charcuterie pairing at Llanerch vineyard

Llanerch vineyard lies in the fertile Vale of Glamorgan. While sitting on the peaceful terrace overlooking the vineyard it’s hard to believe you are only 20-minutes away from Cardiff city centre. As well as the vineyard there is an excellent restaurant and accommodation. They are actually in the process of increasing the number of rooms which is great considering the proximity to Cardiff.

Anway, let get down to the food and wine. As well as the Cwmfarm charcuterie we picked up earlier we added some more from Trealy Farm and some Welsh bread and cheeses.  A selection of Welsh wine was opened from across the country from the most northerly vineyard in Wales to White Castle, Abergavenny and Llanerrch’s own Cariad wines.

We were expertly guided through the various products and the suggested wine pairings to enhance their flavours. However, as the number of wines increased our professionalism started to decline just a little and some giggles did set in.

Vineyard Tour

Ending the day with a guided vineyard tour around Llanerch vineyard

Finally, making the most of the warm dry weather, we were given a tour of the Llanerch vineyards. Yes, there some more tastings as well.

As mentioned earlier, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavour of the British wines now available and if you still haven’t tried one, we definitely recommend giving it a go.

So as well as the beautiful beaches and countryside, the local food and drink are another couple of reasons why you must visit Wales. But if you can’t get here immediately, you can still experience the taste of Wales as many of these produces now sell online.

Do you have a favourite destination in Wales or what Welsh food do you fancy trying?  Let us know in the comments below.

Exploring Wales - It's local food and drink time.

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  • Annemarie
    July 7, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    I love it when restaurants use locally sourced ingredients for fresh local food. I haven’t tried much Welsh cuisine but it seems like I’m mising out. Also, it’s great that the meat gets even more flavour thanks to the salt marshes.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 7, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      The Gower Salt Marsh lamb is quite unique and is used by a number of top restaurants. Simple Pembrokeshire potatoes are pretty nice too.

  • Darren
    July 7, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Wow. I didn’t know there was Vineyards in Wales and I grew up in North Wales. Have book marked for when we do more road trips in Wales

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 7, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      The wines we tasted were exceptional, especially the sparkling.

  • Linda
    July 7, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    It is definitely great to explore in your own backyard. Always provides great tips for visitors that are more unique. I did not know that Wales produces wine. The pairings at the Llanerch vineyard looked good. I really like to be guided to the perfect matches for a wine.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 7, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      The wine tasting and food pairing was a good afternoon. The food and wine we tried were exceptional and just as good as anything we have tasted on our travels around the world.

  • Fiona Maclean
    July 7, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Ohhhh in which you get to eat my favourite Trealy farm charcuterie, salt marsh lamb AND drink sparkling wine. I’m jealous now – though I think I need to visit Wales and check out how your sparkling wine compares with the Sussex/Kent vineyards I know rather better!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 7, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      Eating good food and drinking great wine – it was a hard couple of days but someone has to do it.

  • Himanshu
    July 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    I have read a lot on Wales and found it to be filled with natural wonders. But to know so much about its food scene from a local is awesome and bookmark worthy. I would certainly stay in a vineyard with rooms and I must admit Windmill Park Farm is so picturesque. I would love to by fresh potatoes from there and eat them the way your prescribed. Thanks for this article.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 9, 2018 at 7:05 am

      The coastline around Windmill Park Farm in West Wales is very pretty, not a bad place to live and work.

  • Janine Thomas
    July 9, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Reading about the salt marsh lamb I can almost taste the samphire and sea lavender. I remember how delicious Welsh lamb was from when I lived in the UK. This sounds like the perfect gourmet eascape.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 9, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      This years lamb has just come into season too.

  • Rashmi and Chalukya
    July 10, 2018 at 8:22 am

    During our trip to the UK, we only had one day in Wales so we explored the capital Cardiff and missed the countryside. The views around the Windmill Park Farm is picturesque. And we have never been to a potato farm so it would be a unique experience. We had no idea the Llanerch vineyard is just 20 minutes from Cardiff city center definitely something to add to list for the next time.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 12, 2018 at 7:56 am

      The countryside around Llanerch is very pretty and it’s amazing that is just 20 minutes from the city centre. Pembrokeshire is definitely worth a trip as well.

  • Sara
    July 10, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I love meeting the local farmers and producers of an area. Talking with those at the source.

    That is really interesting about the salt marsh lamb. We have lamb in Australia that graze on saltbush. It too gives them a brilliant flavour.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 12, 2018 at 7:57 am

      The flavour is really nice and you can really taste the difference.

  • Kirstie Saldo
    July 11, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Yup, first time reading about vineyards in Wales, too. However, I have read really great stuff about Welsh food. Tried making some at home too! Cant wait to actually visit and try their food and wine!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 12, 2018 at 7:59 am

      Welsh food is excellent with a lot of local producers. Welsh lamb has always been popular but the Salt Marsh Lamb has a great flavour.

  • Medha Verma
    July 12, 2018 at 9:23 am

    I did not know that you have vineyards in Wales and that’s excellent because I love visiting vineyards, tasting some wine and pairing it with good meat. What a lovely experience to be able to visit vineyards and also have some great wine while you stay over for the night at Jabajak Vineyard Restaurant with Rooms.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      July 14, 2018 at 11:35 pm

      The wine was very good and the food, as usual, was excellent. The rooms were really nice too.