Love wine? Adore the great outdoors? Prepare to fall head over heels for Cornwall.
Our pretty peninsula has more than beaches, coves and clotted cream. It's also home to a handful of working vineyards, which grow, brew and sell their own brands of British wine.
Want to pay them a visit? You're in luck. Most vineyards in Cornwall hold open days where you can admire the vines, taste the wines and learn some tricks of the viticultural trade.
In this article, we share four of the best. But first, let's address the elephant in the wine cellar…
Hang on… there are vineyards in Cornwall?
Yes – and it's nothing new. The 11th-century Domesday Book, for instance, catalogued more than 40 wineries across England and Wales, with of course plenty of vineyards in Cornwall.
Of course, this all changed in the centuries that followed. Countries like France, Italy and Spain – with their warm, relatively predictable climates – took over as the predominant wine-making regions in Europe.
But British wine has enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years. According to The Wine Society, there are now more than 700 vineyards in the UK. In 2021, these vineyards produced a staggering 67,097 hectolitres of wine – or approximately nine million bottles.
Vineyards in Cornwall are lucky. Our county's unique, mild climate makes it especially suitable for wine production, leading some to dub it the 'California of England'.
Still, it's not all rosés and sunshine. Britain's changeable weather conditions mean that crop yields are unpredictable. However, smart wineries have learned to adapt, focusing their efforts on grape varieties and growing techniques that suit our fickle climate.
Which brings us to the first of our vineyards in Cornwall…
Camel Valley is notable as a vineyard in Cornwall for at least two reasons.
First, it's been around for donkey's years, relatively speaking. Camel Valley started producing wines in 1989 when England's wine industry was in its infancy.
Second, its wines are truly world-class. Since 1993, this local giant has earned more than 400 awards and commendations – including the prestigious DWWA gold award for its 2005 White Pinot Noir Brut.
Camel Valley's winemakers are masters of the méthode traditionnelle. This approach uses young grapes, which are picked and blended before going through a second fermentation within the bottle. Relying on young grapes means Camel Valley can create crisp, refreshingly fizzy wines that aren't so vulnerable to England's temperamental climate.
Why not pay Camel Valley a visit? The vineyard in Cornwall offers guided tours from Monday to Friday, where you'll learn about the vineyard and taste some of its flagship wines. Cheers to that!
For the next of our vineyards in Cornwall, we head to Penzance – the most westerly major town in England. After Penzance, it's all rambling countryside, coastal villages and the vast, choppy waters of the Celtic Sea.
Polgoon embodies all the virtues of this beautiful and isolated part of the world. Like the people of Penzance, this family-run winery is very welcoming and fiercely independent.
Case in point: Polgoon takes sustainability very seriously. It creates wildlife corridors on its land, uses locally sourced ingredients and is committed to becoming a plastic-free business. Plus, all of its wines are certified vegan, so you enjoy a glass in good conscience.
And – believe us – you will enjoy it. Polgoon's reds, whites and rosés easily hold their own against better-known vineyards in Cornwall. And its Seyval Blanc sparkling wine recently bagged the bronze trophy at the Independent English Wine Awards.
All their wines are available to buy online. Or, if you want to make a day of it, you could book a place on one of their guided tours. You'll explore the vineyard, visit the winery and taste five of Polgoon's award-winning wines. Just be sure to book ahead – places are limited.
Trevibban Mill is unique among vineyards in Cornwall for its sheer variety of wines. If you want to dedicate a wine rack to Cornish tipples, make Trevibban your first port of call.
At the time of writing, its online shop lists six sparkling wines, four whites, three reds and two still rosés. Oh, and it also offers a few apple wines and a handful of tasty-looking ciders. Not too shabby.
Where should you start? Some reviewers recommend Trevibban's best-selling Harlyn – a dry, fruity white that pairs beautifully with fragrant curries and blue cheeses. Others swear by Black Ewe Brut, a vegan-friendly sparkling wine that has won praise for its velvety mouthfeel and refreshing acidity.
Its vineyard tours are popular, too. Book your spot and you'll enjoy a guided stroll of the vineyard, along with a tasting session that includes seven Trevibban wines and a selection of local cheeses.
Be sure to check availability, though. Like many vineyards in Cornwall, Trevibban's opening hours vary depending on the time of year.
Looe Valley Vineyard
As you drive down the lush country lane that leads to Looe Valley Vineyard, you might – for a split second – believe you're navigating the twisting chemins of Champagne.
This isn't quite Champagne. But – dare we say it – Looe Valley's Brut is just as good as anything produced in that famous French wine region. It's fresh, it's citrussy and it's perfect for a long, lazy summer's day. Santé!
What's the secret? Like Camel Valley and other vineyards in Cornwall, Looe Valley adapts its viticultural methods to suit our capricious climate. This means, for instance, using Solaris grapes – a relatively new variety that tends to grow well in cold, damp weather conditions.
And like Camel Valley, Looe uses the traditional method with its vineyard in Cornwall, where young grapes are allowed to ferment in the bottle. This results in a crisp, dry wine with plenty of fizz.
Looe Valley offers vineyard tours from May to September, along with occasional concerts and wine-tasting events. Travelling in a large group? Plump for a private tour and you'll have the whole vineyard to yourself.
Want to explore these vineyards in Cornwall?
Honestly, we've just scratched the surface here. If we had time, we'd also wax about Bosue – a small, boutique-style vineyard in Cornwall near the charming village of St Ewe. And Knightor Winery, whose grapes are grown in Porthscatho – the same coastal village we call home.
There are plenty of lush vineyards in Cornwall to visit, so why not make a holiday of it?
Book a room at Driftwood and you'll have the perfect base for your Cornish wine-tasting tour. You could spend the day at one of these up-and-coming vineyards in Cornwall, and then get a great night's sleep in one of our boutique sea-view rooms.
Cornwall's wine scene is bubbling up. We're here to help you make the most of it.