Good week, bad week. When I spoke to Pamela Walsh of Wicklow Way Wines, she was delighted to have received two Blas na hÉireann 2020 Awards. On the downside, she and other Wicklow food and drink producers had been forced by Covid-19 restrictions to cancel a feast featuring signature dishes made using local ingredients, designed to partner local drinks.
Its Móinéir Blackberry wine, made from Irish blackberries and elderberries, carried off a gold award, and the Móinéir Strawberry wine took a bronze. This was the first time the winery had entered the competition and it was understandably pleased.
“We didn’t know what sort of response we would get, so we were delighted. We put our heart and soul into this and it was great to get good feedback. We are all about being part of Origin Green, being sustainable and making the most of what is available to us in the Irish countryside. We don’t have to look abroad for our dinner drinks all the time,” Walsh says.
Two years ago, Wicklow Naturally was launched by Wicklow County Council, Leader and the local Enterprise Board (see wicklownaturally.ie). "Part of the strategy is to develop dishes where you can get all of the ingredients here in Wicklow, either wild or from the producers. So our local chefs came up with signature dishes representing the best of the county, and to make it more interesting, we pair them with all local drinks, beer, spirits and fruit wines."
Móinéir Blackberry wine is paired with the Huntsman’s Stew: “A slow-cooked stew made from stout-marinated venison, scented with wild blackberries, elderberries and fraughán berries and thickened with oatmeal.”
Wicklow Way Wines also does tours of its winery in Newtownmountkennedy. "We do parings with cheese, with dark chocolate, and then everybody understands how good they are with food. My favourite match is Crozier Blue cheese and blackberry wine – they are stunning together." The winery is currently closed but open for future bookings on wicklowwaywines.ie.