We love the city but sometimes we need to escape in search of fresh air and head space, so were very interested to hear about a new food and drink tour that picks you up in Dublin, ferries you around Wicklow to meet some of the county's best food and drink producers, and drops you back to the city that evening full of cheese, whiskey and fruit wine. Sounds like our dream day, so we went off to check it out...
What is Meet The Makers Wicklow?
It's a collaboration between Kilruddery House and Gardens, Wicklow Way Wines, Wicklow Wolf beer and Powerscourt Distillery, led by Mia Tobin from Brewery Hops, to bring you on a day of food and drink tasting without the hassle of arranging individual appointments - or having to drive yourself home afterwards, because who wants to be the designated driver after visits to a winery, brewery and distillery. Major buzzkill.
The tour collects and drops you back to Nassau Street in Dublin city centre, so the only thing you need to do is get yourself to the Kilkenny Shop, maybe slotting in a pitstop en route to Bread 41 or Tiller + Grain for coffee and cruffins (we did this, it's always a good idea). It's fully guided by Mia throughout the day, with commentary en route to Wicklow and between stops.
Where do you go on the tour?
The first stop is Kilruddery House where owner Fionnuala Ardee takes you on a tour of the house which dates back to the 17th century, then down along the grounds and into the walled kitchen gardens and poly-tunnels, to pick tomatoes, salad leaves, herbs and edible flowers for a mid-morning snack.
Once the baskets been filled up it's back up to the courtyard for homemade sausage rolls, salad, brownies, marshmallows, tea and coffee, and if it's a Saturday you might get a chance to have a wander around their weekly farmer's/craft/vintage market.
After Kilruddery House it's back on the bus and onto Wicklow Way Wines, whose award-winning Móinéir fruit wines are made from strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Winemaker Brett Stephenson takes the group on a tour of the winery, showing them how the fruit is pressed, fermented and aged, before heading upstairs for a cheese, chocolate and wine tasting.
Once you've had your fill of fruit wine it's time to head to Wicklow Wolf brewery around the corner. They've just moved here from Bray so it's all brand spanking new, including the lovely wooden and corrugated iron tasting room where you'll get to taste through their current range of beers, and see some of the hops they've grown themselves in the Wicklow mountains - a work in progress. You also get a walk through of the brewery, beer in hand, then it's back into the tasting room for a beer of your choice and pizza from Firehouse Bakery in Delgany.
The next and final stop is Powerscourt Distillery, which is a new distillery on the grounds of Powerscourt Estate which opened in March of this year. After being taken into a mini-cinema for a video about the distillery, who's behind it and their multi-award-winning distiller, you'll get a tour of the distillery and hear how whiskey is made, before being taken into the barrel room to see how it's aged, and learn about 'whiskey chocolate' - a type of sediment that builds up on the outside of the barrels from whiskey seeping out - we weren't quite up for tasting that one.
Once the technical stuff is done, it's time for the fun part. The tasting. You'll head upstairs to one of the private tasting rooms for a tasting of their three Fercullen whiskeys, which retail for between €40 and €90, paired with cheeses, meats and crackers.
After that you'll be rolled onto the bus full and happy, for a final drive past the sugarloaf, before heading back for Dublin.
What time does it leave and return to Dublin?
The mini-bus leaves from across from the Kilkenny Shop on Nassau Street at 09:30 and will drop you back there at 17:30, after which you can head home full and happy, or keep the day of piggery going by heading for dinner and drinks. You're already in town sure.
What's the damage?
€150, which includes transport to and from Dublin, and all of your food and drink for the day. Stuck for Christmas present ideas? Sorted.
How do I book?
Tours for select dates can be booked here, or private tours can also be arranged if you can round up a group, or convince your boss to fund a team-building day out. Gift vouchers are also available. For more information click the link below.