Keen wine lovers will be interested to know that you don't have to cross the channel to enjoy an interesting day out enjoying wine tasting or taking a tour of a local vineyard. The Camel Valley Winery near Bodmin welcomes visitors on their wine tours, and what's more they speak English too!
Started in 1989 by ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife, they initially intended to raise their family on a small farm raising sheep and cattle. After a viticulture course and a tour of German wineries, they established their winery, initially doing most of the harvesting and work by hand themselves. Once they had won their first (of many) awards, they knew they were on course for success.
Reds, whites and bubbly!
In 2002 the winery won the Waitrose Drinks Producer of the Year Award which says a lot about the quality of the wines produced here. They went on to produce a sparkling wine which in 2005 won the International Wine Challenge Gold Medal, and yes it is delicious! Many more awards have followed since.
This enterprising business includes a family-owned vineyard, a winery and a shop/wine bar with outdoor terrace for enjoying a glass or two of their local vintage. There is a small fee to join one of the scheduled tours or sample wine-tasting, which incidentally is very good. If you find something you like, you can purchase it by the glass, or by the bottle to take away.
There is a pleasant wine bar/shop onsite and a sunny outdoor terrace with individual booths and tables overlooking the vines. It's the perfect place to head for on a sunny afternoon.
Wines include a bubbly which is very refreshing on a summer's afternoon. They also produce a dry white Camel Valley Bacchus, a crisp Atlantic made from a blend of Bacchus, Reichensteiner and Chardonnay; a delicious rosé, a white Darnibole Bacchus and a Camel Valley Red from rondo grapes.
Book a guided tour at Camel Valley Winery
Guided tours are available Monday to Friday at 2:30pm and includes a glass of wine in the tour price. The informative tour takes about an hour, but you can linger in the terrace with an extra glass or two.
You need to book ahead online or by phone to join one of the Grand Tours, which take place on Wednesday evenings at 5pm between 1st April and 30th October. After a tour with the winemaker there is a wine tasting session of at least four wines, or soft drinks for the Designated Driver!
The owner of the vineyard, Bob, leads the tour and gives a very entertaining and informative talk (with plenty of humour) about the vineyard and winemaking. You get to see the vines and also the huge vats in which the wines are fermented before bottling. It's fascinating for anyone who enjoys wine, but not particularly interesting for children and no dogs are allowed, except guide dogs.
Getting to the Winery
Set on the slopes of the Camel Valley, the vineyard is in a very peaceful and green setting. It is accessible from the Camel Trail, so if you're feeling energetic and want a destination to head for on your bike, then the Camel Valley vineyard is a good choice. However, after the relatively flat cycle trail, there is a steep climb to reach the vineyard (although refreshments are waiting at the top as an incentive!).
If you can't make it to the vineyard, you can obtain the Camel Valley wine at any Waitrose, in Fortnum and Mason's and even by the glass at London's Tate Modern. After that you'll definitely want to book a cottage in Cornwall and pay the Camel Valley Winery a visit for yourself.
Have you sampled the Camel Valley wines? Is it worth the price? What's your verdict ‐ we'd love to know!