Ballymena wine lovers toast special guests

Mid & East Antrim Mayor, Audrey Wales with Simon & Rozanne Barlow and members of Ballymena Wine Society at a reception in the Mayor's Parlour in the Town Hall
Mid & East Antrim Mayor, Audrey Wales with Simon & Rozanne Barlow and members of Ballymena Wine Society at a reception in the Mayor's Parlour in the Town Hall

Lovers of wine in the Ballymena area raised their glasses to welcome two very special guests to a function in the town recently.

Ballymena Wine Society played host to Simon and Rozanne Barlow at their monthly tasting in the Adair Arms Hotel.

Part of the large attendance at the Barlow wine tasting to Ballymena Wine Society

Part of the large attendance at the Barlow wine tasting to Ballymena Wine Society

Simon and Rozanne, owners of the prestigious Rustenberg Winery, Stellenbosch, South Africa, presented a range of their iconic wines to approximately 40 members and guests.

Before setting off the following day on the next stage of their itinerary, Simon and Rozanne, together with members of Ballymena Wine Society, attended a reception in the Mayor’s Parlour, kindly hosted by Mayor, Audrey Wales.

The Society, established in April 1988, meets in the Adair Arms Hotel on the fourth Tuesday of the month (September-November and January-May). Tastings are often led by representatives from local wine merchants and wholesalers. Speakers usually present a selection of wines ranging from great-value accessible wines right up to premium quality wines from both Old and New World regions. Useful tips are also provided on matching wines with food.

In addition to the well-known classic varieties, members really appreciate the opportunity afforded by presenters to ‘try something different’! Some ‘Off the beaten track wines’ have included those from Croatia, Greece, Georgia, India, China, Majorca and Corsica.

Simon Barlow explains the work in his winery to the Society members

Simon Barlow explains the work in his winery to the Society members

At each meeting, a bottle of wine is raffled with the proceeds going towards a nominated charity. Recent charities have included Alzheimer’s Society NI, Bravehearts and Turning Point (NI). This year the chosen charity is ‘Good Morning Ballymena’ which provides a telephone, befriending, support and alert service to elderly persons and vulnerable adults in the local area.

Members meet in a relaxed and informal setting. Absolutely no qualifications in wine are needed – only an appreciation of and interest in learning more about wine!

As the Society approaches its 30th anniversary, membership has grown to almost 40 members. At its last AGM, due to increased demand, the membership ceiling was increased, with a small number of places still remaining.

Following the summer break, the next meeting will be held on Tuesday, 26 September when Noel MacMahon, Fine Wine Manager from Febvre Wines, Dublin will treat members to some of the finest wines from his portfolio.

Further information can be found on the Society’s Facebook at Ballymena WineSociety.