The Grape Pretender – Cornwall’s answer to Champagne!

Camel Valley is probably Cornwall’s most well-known vineyard, having won multiple international awards for its still and sparkling wines. Established in 1989, the vines planted by the Lindo family are still tended by them on slopes above the Camel River, where the view from the terrace is spectacular – especially when enjoyed with a glass of fizz in hand. 

The Essentials

Location: Camel Valley is located on the River Camel at Nanstallon, between Bodmin and Wadebridge. Click here for directions

Useful Visiting Info: Choose from the basic Guided Tour (every week day at 2.30, April – September) or a Grand Tour and Tasting (every Wednesday evening at 5pm, with extra tours during August). The Grand Tours are led by a wine maker and finish with a wine tasting session. Booking in advance for all tours is highly recommended. 

Top Tip: The Camel Trail – a 18 mile-long cycle path which follows the route of a disused railway line – passes Camel Valley and is a great way to get to know this beautiful part of Cornwall a little better. 

When Bob and Annie Lindo planted their first vines as an experiment back in 1989, they had no idea they would become amongst the pioneers of the English wine movement, and that their wines would one day be compared with those of champagne. A major milestone came in 2005, when Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Sparkling Wine won an International Wine Challenge Gold Medal. It was a proud moment for the Lindo family and one which set the tone for the coming decade. 

A lot has changed since the couple planted, pruned and pressed with the help of a few friends; Camel Valley now has a small army lovingly attending the rows and rows of vines. Bob and Annie are still very much a part of the picture, their expertise an invaluable resource in crafting the Camel Valley portfolio vintage after vintage. However Bob has been succeeded by his son Sam as Head Winemaker, confirming the belief placed in him by winning a long list of prestigious national and international awards. 

Sam’s take on the character of English wines is as follows: 

“English wines are delicate and fresh, with aromas suggestive of the English garden or hedgerow. The grapes take on the character of other fruits which do well in our British summertime, such as strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries. English wines also have this magical acidity. In warmer climates, winemakers might try to pick early to capture that crisp edge. In our English grapes, the delicate acidity remains right there in the background as, if we are lucky and get some sun, fresh and fruity flavours also develop.”

A visit to Camel Valley is a fabulous treat. Make sure you linger on the terrace and take a few moments to appreciate the bravery and foresight on planting vines on these slopes back in 1989, replacing grazing sheep with what were to become some of England’s most valuable grape vines.

A few to try on the terrace at Camel Valley:

  • 2015 Annie’s Anniversary Brut – Annie Lindo has personally tended this particular section of the vineyard for 28yrs, carefully pruning the 5000 vines. This is the 20th vintage a single-vineyard wine has been made from Annie’s Vineyard, and the wine is recommended for drinking now – 2025.
  • 2017 Camel Valley Bacchus Dry – This is a quintessential English white wine – delicate and refreshing, with flavours of grapes and citrus fruits on the palate.
  • 2016 Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rose Brut – The gentle pink colour of this wine alludes to the delicate palate of summer fruit laced with crisp acidity. 

To find out a bit more about Camel Valley visit their website.

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Images courtesy of Camel Valley

CategoriesFood & Drink