A few years ago, winemakers and wine drinkers alike would’ve scoffed at the idea of English wine. But French vineyards now have plenty to worry about when it comes to plonk from this side of the channel. Cornwall’s Camel Valley vineyard is top of the list.
English wine, and in particular sparkling wine, is now wowing drinkers, wine experts and even royalty, picking up plenty of awards and reviews. Camel Valley, located between Bodmin and Wadebridge, is a case (gettit?) in point.
When ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie planted their first eight thousand vines in 1989, they never dreamed of the phenomenal success they would achieve within two decades. Some may find it hard to imagine sun-drenched slopes in Cornwall, but Bob and Annie did, and wondered if vines might enjoy such an aspect.
Taking a viticulture course and reading every wine book they could find, they built a winery and equipped it with the finest equipment they could afford. Annie is the first to admit the early years weren’t easy: “But we loved it, always striving for perfection in the vineyard and the winery, and then we won a medal in the national English Wine competition for our first wine, so we knew we were doing something right.”
Other awards have included the Waitrose Drinks Producer of the Year Award in 2002 and the International Wine Challenge Gold Medal for Camel Valley ‘Cornwall Sparkling Wine’ in 2005 where they were up against some of the finest wines in the world. Nowadays, the second generation winemaker – son, Sam Lindo – is hard at work at Camel Valley and the award-winning spree has continued.
You’ll find Camel Valley stocked in Waitrose, Fortnum’s and Hakkasan in London, exported to Japan and poured at the tables of the UK’s finest restaurants, including Rick Stien’s in Padstow and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay.
The Independent’s verdict says it all: “Anyone who has tasted Camel Valley White Pinot Noir will be blown away by its elegance.” Perfect to make your Christmas and New Year break go with a pop.
As well as a year-round wine shop on site, Camel Valley also offers laid-back tours of the vineyards. There’s no snobbery here, just a deep and enthusiastic love of wine. A very interesting day out.
Visit www.camelvalley.com for more information.