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We are having a bit of a make-over. You may be aware of the cider rumblings that have been coming from this quarter for a while now, and if you weren’t then apologies for any confusion caused by these changes.

The twitter account is no longer @the_WineStore, it is now @graapples – we’re now in a place where grapes and apples collide (but to be honest I’m still tweeting about a fair bit more than just wine and cider). We’re not fermenting the two in the same place, at the same time, but we are changing direction. While continuing to make wine in the Rhône, Simon is now making cider in Wicklow as well. Having been a frustrated fermenter for a while he now finds it is,  a bit like the arrival of the proverbial buses, all starting to happen at once. This does mean that September & October (grape harvest & wine-making in France) and October & November (apple harvest & cider-making in Ireland) have joined December (the busiest time of the year on the wholesale side of things) as being fairly manic months, but there’s always January (traditionally a quiet period for us) to look forward to and to be honest we’re happy to be busy.

There is a lot of ground work being prepared at the moment and at times we feel like we’re stuck in the hamster wheel but every now and then when we look up we realise we’re making wine and cider and that is amazing. We are still importing and selling wine of course, still concentrating on the Rhône but also bringing in delicious stuff from other parts of France and Spain too, and continuing to thoroughly enjoy that as well. At the moment we can’t sell the cider through the Wine Store due to licencing but we’ll let you know where it’s available once it is out there on the shelves, I’ll tweet that and we’ll have it up on the Craigies Cider facebook page too.

The cider is being made with Angus Craigie outside Grange Con in Co. Wicklow. It will be bottled under the name Craigie’s Cider and the first batch due to hit the shelves late November 2012 will be called ‘The Ballyhook Flyer’ the inspiration for the name came from Angus’ and Froggy’s entry to the Grange Con soapbox derby (some other fine entries to this race can be seen here.)

The cider has had a bit of press in the run up to its being launched,  and we are delighted to be a founding member of Cider Ireland. You can read about this over on the Cider Ireland website. Cider Ireland is a new all-Ireland initiative where the craft cider makers in the island of Ireland (i.e. those making cider from 100% Irish grown apples and not from any concentrate) have got together to support one another and to help promote Irish Cider. In the mind of most of the people cider and beer and put in the same bracket. However cider is, like wine, fermented cider is made but beer is brewed. This is quite a difference. Cider, true cider, is like wine, an annual product which has a vintage and will therefore vary somewhat in taste from year to year. If you’d like to read more on cider in Ireland you can have a look at some recent press reviews like this one from the Sunday Business Post Cider house rules Sunday Business Post 16 Sept 2012 and more recently in the Sunday Times (Irish edition, 11 November 2012).


If you’re following this blog and would like to keep up to date then please migrate with us to our new home Grapes and Apples which you’ll find here.


A little caption competition, the entries will be posted here. For details on how to enter see the competition page on our website.

Here’s the picture:

Simon doing the punch down

J. Foley via twitter: “In vino everyass”

J. Doorley via twitter: “If we keep paddling like this, I’m sure we’ll make it to the Blue Light before closing!”

A. Collins (who is “taking this competition very seriously” and is in “to WINE it!”) via email: “Barrelly Alive, Reisling to the Challenge”

Eliza via twitter: “Simon is thinking he is glad he did not wear his mankini that day.”

M. Logan via twitter:  “earthy aromas with Armani notes; medium bodied well structured w good tannin & grip, interesting fruity finish!”

E. McNamara via twitter: “So Simon did the grapes make a noise when you stood on them?” “Not a lot, but they did let out a little wine…”

E. Corcoran via twitter: “Working holiday she said, it’ll be fun she said”

E. Corcoran via twitter: “Can you see what it is yet?”

Murray via comments, here: “Lost my bloody car keys again”

O. Kirwan via twitter: “Ok nobody move, I’ve lost my contact!!!”

A. Cotter via comments, here:

A man once went to the harvest,

Into a vat he climbed in mere jocks and vest,

He danced all around,

And finally found,

The grapes turned to wine of the finest!!

M. Tully via email:

Simple Simon said “I can tread on the vine”

So Jumping right in, he’s doing just fine!

But grapes are all squashed

And Simon got sloshed….

So now he’s doin the Time!!

(Boom! Boom!)

M. Tully via email: “Look Mammy No Feet

J. Kelly via twitter: “Oh look, I’ve found two blue plums too…”

J. Coffey via email:

There once stood a man in his pants,

in a vat full of wine down in France,

he really loved wine

and thought it to be fine

to stomp on some grapes and then dance

J. Moynes via email:

In a barrell somewhere in the Rhône,
Our hero once found himself thrown,
To the Frenchys’ delight,
It was three times his height,
And full of the grapes they had grown.

D. Harris via email:

Simon’s looking quite ‘ever-so-cute’

In his stripey new grape-treading suit.

Sadly, this vintage slumped –

To the drain it’s been pumped

Once they found he’d got bad athlete’s foot!

and another from D. Harris, also via email:

Disaster, he’s sunk! Where’s the key

For the rescue equipment – can’t see

Where it is? What’s that noise?

“I believe it’s his voice” …

Listen now, keep it down: “Leave me be!”

from A. Sweetman via comments here:  “A superior wine merchant — scraping the top of the barrel…”


First place, O. Kirwan :  “Ok nobody move, I’ve lost my contact!!!”

Second place, E. Corcoran : “Working holiday she said, it’ll be fun she said”

Third place, J. Moynes :

In a barrell somewhere in the Rhône,
Our hero once found himself thrown,
To the Frenchys’ delight,
It was three times his height,
And full of the grapes they had grown.

Everyone else was robbed, obviously, but thank you for entering.

Ok, so I’m jumping on the band wagon, and perhaps I’m a little late to the party but hey, I’ve turned up and I’ve brought a bottle, and a book (for more on the book bit see below, the bottle is mine).

Often in novels one of the characters reaches for a glass of wine, or knocks over a bottle of Claret, or shows off their wine knowledge by referring to a well-known Bordeaux Château. For some reason this really annoys me, it’s like referring to a Renoir or a Picasso when talking of art – an obvious big name which in fact says nothing about your knowledge of the subject. There are so many ‘label drinkers’ out there. You know the type, you’ve sat beside them, the people who will sit next you at dinner and reel off all the amazing (expensive, critically acclaimed) wines they’ve drunk. It’s just a little boring. Although I don’t know a huge amount about wine compared to most who work in the trade I work beside someone who does, I’ve learnt a lot and I’m continuing to learn. I know when I like a wine and when I don’t, and according to the critics I’m not always ‘right’. But I do know that it’s almost impossible to say “I don’t like Merlot” and “I love Syrah” or “I can’t stand Chardonnay”. This is a bit like saying “I love chicken” when you don’t like curried chicken or won’t touch chicken nuggets. Or “I love denim” when you really mean you love your favourite jeans and not the patchwork denim flares you wore as a child in the 70s (ok maybe that was just me).

A certain Mr Grey may like certain leather products but that doesn’t mean he’ll be donning a pair of leather cowboy boots in the next chapter. It’s what is made out of the raw material, be it leather or grape that you will like or not – and how good the end result is will depend on the person who is creating that product.

Equally you can’t, like a certain Mr Grey, order a Pouilly-Fumé and know that it will always be good – Pouilly-Fumé is an AOC in the Loire Valley (AOC: Appellation d’Origine Controllée – a designated area, only wines grown inside the limits can put Pouilly-Fumé on the label) and unfortunately, as with Sancerre, Châteauneuf du Pape, Chablis, St Emilion etc., there is no way you can guarantee that all the producers in the region will make good wine. So, and at the risk or repeating myself, be a nerd and make a note or take a photo of the label of the next wine you like, then why not try something else from the same producer rather than something else made in the same region or from the same grape.

So, back to That Book. Yes I have read it. Yes I thought it was crap. I can mention so many other well-written books of the same genre. Well, I could possibly mention one, or at a stretch two, you know, that I’ve read reviews of. Anyway, I have a copy on the desk beside me. The blurb on the back says “this is a novel that will… stay with you forever” well, I’m getting rid of my copy, so that part is definitely not true and I will post it to one (un)lucky person, in a brown paper parcel.

Let me know, via twitter, facebook or if you’re very shy, email (, the name of the producer of the Pouilly-Fumé we stock (big hint, right here) as well as why you’d like the copy of the book. I’ll pull a name out the hat by lunchtime tomorrow, which just happens to be Friday 13th – could be lucky for you.