English Wine Week – celebrating Cornish winemakers

Who’d have thought that this remote county in the far west of England would be as well known in some circles for its wine as it is in others for its clotted cream and pasties?

Yet tucked amongst the winding lanes and windblown hills are a number of award-winning vineyards creating white, rose, red wines and Cornish bubbles that make perfect bedfellows for Cornish food.

The trick, it seems, is to use the grape varieties that thrive in the Northern parts of Europe where the season is equally long and cool.

You’ll fine Cornwall excels at clean, crisp whites and light reds. And of course, you’ll find some award winning sparkles in the county too. Camel Valley has won numerous prestigious awards and not one, but two Royal Warrants from the King and the Queen and you’ll also find award winning wines at Knightor Winery, Polgoon Vineyard and Trevibban Mill.

We spoke to some of our local wineries to hear a little bit about their story and plans for the future…

Polgoon

Husband and wife team, John and Kim, purchased 20 acres of south facing, well draining land in 2000 and four years later they planted their first vines. In 2007 they won the award for best rose in the country and haven’t looked back since.

Today they have 14,000 vines producing 30-50,000 bottles of wine each year. They still have their original vines producing Rondo, Seyval Blanc, Bacchus, and Pinot Noir and in 2008 they added Sauvignon Blanc to the mix. John proudly labels this wine as the one he is most proud of with not many English wineries producing quality Sauvignon Blanc and he tells us the wine is ‘spectacular’.

We asked John what the biggest challenge in owning a English vineyard was and ‘the weather’ came back loud and clear.

‘The weather in Cornwall will always be a challenge for farmers, no matter what you are growing. We invested in polytunnels for around 25% of our wines so that we can ensure a good quality crop each year and adapt to a changing climate,’ John told us.

John and his apprentice Tommy hope to improve the quality of their crops, wine making and build on what they have established over the last twenty years to continue producing and offering some of the very best English wines.

We finished our chat by asking John which wine he would recommend to our customers and he said for him it was of course the Sauvignon Blanc but that his wife would say the Pinot Noir and the team here at the store love the Cornish fizz…So we suggest you try them all!

Trevibban Mill

In 2008, husband and wife Engin and Liz purchased a ruined water mill and 25 acres of rather barren farmland with a plan to build a new home and rent the fields to local farmers. They soon realised these were fallow fields, on shallow soil with remains of an old slate quarry in the earth which no farmer was interested in. So they thought they’d plant a few vines…

Liz told us she realised Engin was serious about the project when he planted 11,000 vines across 8 acres of their land!

They have recently added an extra 1,000 vines and they also have an apple orchard covering another 8 acres which produces cider and apple juice.

Trevibban Mill have explored different varieties than some of the other vineyards in the county and are growing Pinot Noir, Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner, Dornfelder and more recently a new Sauvignon variety, an aromatic grape that crosses the flavour of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Liz said their biggest challenge was also the Cornish weather but added that the venture into hospitality when they opened to the public in 2014 was a steep learning curve but is also something she is most proud of.

‘Seeing people leave the winery buzzing about what they’ve learnt and the wines they’ve tasted makes me so proud,’ she said.

You can visit Trevibban Tues-Sat for wine tastings and delicious food (and of course cider tastings).

Knightor

In 2006 Adrian Derx established two vineyards on the picturesque South Cornish coastline, at Portscatho and Seaton, and in 2011 the first grapes were harvested. Today Knightor grow 27 varieties of grapes, with 40% of the varieties being specialised to produce Knightor’s traditional wine range.

The team at Knightor are close and committed, with six employees working across production, marketing and sales. We asked the Sales Manager, Liam, what he is most proud of in this role and he said, ‘How far Knightor has come over the years and the diverse range of wines we have on offer. Seeing people appreciate and enjoy Knightor gives you a true buzz’.

In celebration of English Wine Week Knightor are launching a 2014 Vintage Cuvée. The wine has been ten years in the making and underwent ageing on the lees for over 8 years, resulting in a rich and decadent sparkling.

The vineyard’s future is bright as the team look forward to developing Knightor’s range of still wines, as 70% of Knightor’s current wine range is sparking; ‘It is really exciting time and I am looking forward to developing and showcasing the quality that our still wines have to offer,’ Liam told us.

Knightor have several upcoming summer events including a cocktail experience and a journey from Grape to Glass  where you can sample Knightor’s refreshing wines in the Cornish evening sun.

 

Archives