Irish wine may not be well known on the international scene, however it has been officially listed by the European Commission as a wine producing country. Production only takes place in a limited number of Irish vineyards, which are mostly located in County Cork. Lusk, in North County Dublin, also produces a wine called Lusca.
Although wine production has been taking place in Ireland for the past few decades, with a number of producers having come and gone since the 1960s, there are historical records which date vineyards back to the fifth century when monks in County Kilkenny were known to have planted a vineyard and several other Irish monastic communities following in their footsteps.
Although the opinion is generally held that grapes grown in Ireland will be poor quality because of the climate, in fact, today’s tenacious Irish winemakers have chosen especially hardy grape varieties which are highly productive, and which ripen especially early thanks to their advanced growing techniques. Most of the grapes grown are of the Rondo variety which thrive in damp and cool climates, however Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are also able to be grown here and produce surprisingly good quality wines.
Many of the wines produced in Ireland are sold domestically as sustainable produce, however small amounts are now exported abroad and there are a handful of commercial available reds and whites which are starting to achieve recognition.
The best known commercial Irish producer is the Llewellyn vineyard which produces on a very small scale with just half an acre of land although there are some other small producers, for example, the Thomas Walk Vineyard in County Cork which is less well known, but actually larger scale than the Llewellyn operation.