‘THE ORCHARD CAFÉ VINES’

‘THE ORCHARD CAFÉ VINES’

The Players
David Llewellyn is the proud owner of Fruit of the Vine Farm in Lusk, North County Dublin. The apples used in his sandpaper-dry cider (as well as juices and cider vinegars) are grown alongside his very own vines, which range from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Gewürtztraminer and Rondo. David’s Lusca wine range is produced organically without the use of those pesky fungicides or pesticides.

Tim Daly is the Head Chef of the Strawberry Tree, of The BrookLodge and of The BrookHall at Macreddin Village, and is (unbeknownst to himself) Irelands newest Vigneron. He and his team’s relentless experimentation with the wild, the wonderful and the organic that our country has to offer is responsible for loads of fantastic recipes and a lot of food fun.

Seán-Óg Doyle is the resident Green Thumb, The Gardener and The Landscaper in Macreddin. Our herb garden and orchard and grounds have been under his tender loving care for quite some time, and his parenting skills have now been extended to our lovely grapes. We’re delighted to leave them in his very capable hands.

The Produce
Once upon a time (well, nine years ago) we had a desire to grow vines and make wines (as well as loads of other homegrown goodies!) in the hope that our guests might sit outside on one of those rare hot Irish summer days in Macreddin Village and savour the terroir of Wicklow, in a wine made right here in the Garden of Ireland. Excited by the prospect, we sought some vines and some guidance from a very helpful friend. It was David that advised us that no, it was not possible to grow the vines outside because we were far too high above sea level.

Vines don’t like that. He later observed that the vines were not exactly prospering in the Waterside Lounge conservatory. Apparently they didn’t like it there either. Luckily for us, and what was quickly becoming a wistful pipe dream, David finally assured us that the vines would be far happier in our Orchard Café, newly enclosed, four years ago, with a glass roof. Fast forward, and there they hang contentedly in the greenhouse warmth, dangling drowsily above the heads of customers and pints alike.

Tim likes to make unusual drinks out of whatever he can get his hands on. Tim makes drinks from elderflowers, elderberries, elder-whatever-looks-good, and loads more besides. Tim watched the vines settle into their new home and decided it was time to turn his hand to winemaking. A few years passed, and the vines weren’t ready to give us the volume or quality of fruit we begged them for. However, Tim is a very determined man, and was undeterred. Finally, this year looks promising, and (green fingers crossed!) will prove third time lucky.

In the meantime, Seán-Óg has voluntarily taken on the task of looking after our vines. Seán-Óg, it seems, has started to mammy them, cuddle them and (we suspect) reads them bedroom stories. The vines were carefully pruned back this winter to encourage a steady growth, and now there are heaps of lovely grapes waiting to make what will hopefully be our first true batch of Macreddin Vino. This month, Seán-Óg is culling the grapes further, cutting almost half of them off so that the remaining fruits, fearing for their lives, will swell into fat juicy beads by the end of August. And in the spring of next year, once the wine (white, or maybe a rosy blush) has been made and matured, we will be able to offer our guests an exclusive supply of handmade Wicklow wine; just in case we ever get that hot summer’s day.

Evan,
Spring 2010