This summer, more visitors than ever before look set to visit Cornish vineyards as wine tourism comes of age on the south-facing, increasingly vine-covered slopes of the far west.
Cornish Wine Tours, the first travel experience of its kind in Cornwall, is reporting a surge in interest and high booking numbers, thanks to a buoyant English wine scene and improved transport links into the Duchy.
Founder Kate McBurnie said: “We’re certainly talking to people who are planning their trips to Cornwall based around visiting vineyards, having enjoyed similar experiences in other wine-making counties like Kent and Hampshire.”
She added: “The new routes into Newquay Airport, the improved A30, and the double summer timetable of GWR services all allow more tourists on a whistle-stop summer visit to the UK to make the journey to Cornwall, and vineyards are high on the list of things they want to experience.”
Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall, welcomed the news that visitor numbers to vineyards are rising, saying:
“The vibrant food and drink scene has helped make Cornwall a truly global destination. Vineyards, breweries and distilleries are all part of the attraction, and Cornish Wine Tours is a great asset, offering a truly immersive experience as well as adding additional revenue for our wineries.”
Having visited several wine regions herself over the years, Kate had an epiphany on returning to her home in Padstow after one such trip in 2017: Cornwall has all the attractions of places like Marlborough in New Zealand, or the Cape Winelands in South Africa, so why not start operating tours here?
Cornish Wine Tours was launched last year, and Kate now runs a busy schedule of full and half day tours between March and October, visiting vineyards including Camel Valley, Trevibban Mill Vineyard, Knightor Winery, Polgoon Vineyard and Orchard and Bosue Vineyard.
The popularity of the tours is also being aided by the remarkable 2018 summer and subsequent vintage, which has already seen some stunning releases including Polgoon’s Sauvignon Blanc 2018 – a single estate and single variety Sauvignon, and the first to be produced in Cornwall.
Kate said: “People are always impressed with the quality of all the wines they try on the tour, but also the diversity of styles being produced by our talented winemakers.”
A full-day tour includes lunch at Appleton’s Bar & Restaurant (at Trevibban Mill Vineyard), giving participants an opportunity to drink a glass or two alongside Cornwall’s famously good local produce.
Kate said: “Cornish wines really come into their own when paired with fresh seafood and other local produce, including foraged wild foods and coastal ingredients like samphire. I guess that proves the rule that what grows together, goes together!”
Find out more at www.cornishwinetours.com where tours can be booked for the 2019 season. Images courtesy of Sarah Clarke @checkeredphotography.