Catching up with Camel Valley

Camel Valley Wines

Recently we contacted Sam Lindo from Camel Valley Vineyard, who are pretty much on our doorstep, to get his lowdown on everything wine related.

Camel Valley Vineyard was started in 1989 when Bob Lindo and his wife Anne planted eight thousand grape vines at a farm in the Cornish Countryside, very close to the banks of the River Camel. They originally farmed sheep and cattle, but the mellow climate set them wondering if they might be able to grow grapes. The first wine they created won a medal in the national English Wine competition and since then the Camel Valley Vineyard has gone from strength to strength. Their traditional sparkling wines are award winning, on a national and international level, and are frequently found on top ten recommended lists. There is also Sam returned to the vineyard after graduating from university and has now taken over as Winemaker, with an odd bit of help from his Dad.

This year they have had a great harvest, with the weather being incredibly obliging by providing them with perfect grape growing conditions: a mild spring, just enough rain in the summer and an incredibly warm September. Picking started earlier than ever before at the vineyard and was finished by their usual start date. They also had one of their best harvests ever, with a huge yield and perfectly ripened grapes. They harvested 84 tons of grapes in total, a huge harvest, which was hard work, but they worked mostly in the September sunshine, with very little rain.

Here’s a little bit about Sam:

Profession: Winemaker
Favourite Beer: Peroni
Favourite Wine Region: Champagne
Favourite Wine: Currently Wirra Wirra Church Block
Favourite Sparkling: Camel Valley and I am definitely not just saying that!
Favourite Spirit: Rum
Favourite West Country Beverage: Camel Valley wines!
Favourite Autumn/Winter Drink: Coffee
Favourite Toast: Camel Valley! Especially at Christmas!

Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up following in your Dad’s footsteps and becoming a winemaker?

When they first planted vines, I helped out my parents during the school holidays but at the time it definitely wasn’t for me. I didn’t come back to the business until I was 25, but I have never looked back since! By that age I knew that I had an amazing opportunity to join a flowering business. It has been a lovely journey, which has culminated in Camel Valley making some of the best sparkling wines in the world. In 2006 I did a vintage at Kim Crawford Wines in New Zealand. It was the same year they were taken over by Constellation, so I actually ended up working for the largest wine producer in the world. The experience taught me a lot about people management and I found out how much effort I can put into work from the other inspirational people there.

Can you sum up your philosophy on food and drink in one sentence?

Give me a story behind a product and I will enjoy it a lot more, especially if it is the producer that told it to me.

What is your go-to drink; something you always like to order or pour for yourself at home?

Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rose Brut. It’s one of our wines that has won the most awards -the 2012 vintage won a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge 2014, and previous vintages have won lots of medals. It’s quite a delicate wine, with a really rich fruity taste.

Which is your favorite English wine producer?

I think I have to say Camel Valley!

What do you think makes English wine different?

We have this amazing acidity that makes the delicate flavors and aromas come alive in the glass and in your mouth.  They are uniquely english in character.

What do you usually drink and/or eat at the end of a shift or a really long day?

We regularly get home and BBQ mackerel to have with the Bacchus.  This is the perfect example of terroir, local food matching perfectly with local wine.  The Bacchus has a lovely English acidity that balances the oily fish together with an elderflower aroma, so it just creates a perfect meal at the end of a long day!