As well as being a haven for happy holiday-makers, Cornwall is also a wine buffs’ dream. It’s down to good soils for grapes, sunshine-flooded slopes, warm winters and some highly skilled winemakers.
These super scenic vineyards are set in beautiful parts of the county – making a winery-themed trip an appealing idea. Fancy a glass of Cornish fizz on a vine-side terrace? Here are five of the best.
Camel Valley Vineyard
They’ve been perfecting the art of winemaking at Camel Valley on the edge of Bodmin Moor for more than 30 years. Set up by Bob and Annie Lindo in 1989, their son Sam is now in charge and is one of the most celebrated winemakers in the UK. The vineyard has amassed up an impressive array of awards. At times they’ve even beaten French Champagne house Bollinger in the Best International Traditional Method Sparkling Wine category at the World Sparkling Wine Championships.
Two of Camel Valley’s renowned sparklers feature on the wine list at the boutique Driftwood Hotel. The Traditional Method, Seyval Blanc-based Camel Valley Brut 2014, with its great acidity. And the elegant Camel Valley Rosé; a Pinot Noir with echoes of raspberry & wild strawberry. To see Camel Valley’s award-winning work at first hand, book ahead at the vineyard for a guided tour.
The trophy cabinet is also fairly full at Polgoon, an artisan vineyard and orchard in Penzance. Former fish merchants John and Kim Coulson bought a run-down flower farm, got some good advice from Bob Lindo at Camel Valley and started planting vines. Their first harvest in 2006 saw them netting the Waitrose Trophy for Best Still UK Rosé. After a few years of challenging weather they expanded into making Cornish cider using the methode traditionelle – the technique French winemakers use to create sparkling wines.
Award winning vintages include the fruity Rondo red, the lightly-oaked Seyval Blanc and Ortega blend, and the zesty sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé Brut. Guided and self-guided vineyard tours see you tasting five Polgoon products, learning about the wine making process and about how the vineyards wines, ciders and juices won vegan certification.
At Knightor Winery, just above St Austell Bay, they relish what is – in winemaking terms – Cornwall’s relatively cool climate and low yields. They say it allows them to produce lighter, lower alcohol-content wines, with good acidity that work brilliantly with food. Highlights include
• Portscatho Vineyard Rosé Vintage 2014 A sparkling, fruity Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling blend
• Madeleine Angevine 2020 A crisp Vinho Verde-esque white which retains a natural spritz
• Portscatho Bacchus 2018 A limited-edition, oak-matured, unfiltered, unfined white.
Knightor also teams its wines with local herbs to produce a range of flavour-packed vermouths. You can experience Knightor’s innovative attitude by booking a tour or tasting – they’re handily near the Eden Project too.
Trevibban Mill’s story is another one of renewal. Engin and Liz Mumcuoglu bought a ruined watermill and 6.5 acres in 2007. What started as planting vines on the central fields has led to them notching up multiple awards. Trevibban’s ethos is sustainable. Two wines, Orion (skin fermented) and Pét Nat have no added sulphites, and Trevibban’s ciders and some of the wines are certified organic by the Soil Association.
At Trevibban’s popular Wine Tasting experiences (year-round) you sample three of their whites, one rosé, two sparkling and one red. Their summer-only grand walking tour sees you guided around the estate before enjoying a seven-wine tasting with charcuterie and cheese. Or opt for a guided tour (February to October) and tutored tasting of five wines.
Looe Valley Vineyard
Yet another vineyard born in the early 2000s, Looe Valley Vineyard in south east Cornwall was set up by Charles Boney and Sue Brownlow. It’s now an artisan producer with around 5,000 vines over 4 acres. Having started off with Riesling-style white grape varieties Bacchus and Schönburger, Looe Valley added a new red in 2016 and a single variety early Pinot Noir rosé in 2019. Looe Valley’s wines include the Locrenton Rose (raspberry and red summer fruit aroma and mellow fruit on the pallette), Bacchus (delicate elderflower on the nose, crisp apple taste) and the zesty, bottle-fermented Solaris sparkling wine. Owner Charles enjoys showing people around – between Easter and October you can book in for a tour and tasting.
How & where to drink Cornish Wines
While highly versatile there’s something extra special about teaming Cornish wines with Cornish produce. It might be anything from Cornish crab, hand-dived Fowey mussels or soused Cornish sardines to roast Cornish lamb. While that Camel Valley Cornish fizz is best sipped at Cornwall’s boutique Driftwood Hotel – either in the sea-view dining room or on our decked terrace overlooking Gerrans Bay.