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Breaking New Ground – Knightor, Cornwall’s experimental winery!

Located near St Austell, the grapes at Knightor Winery may have soaked up some of the pioneered spirit and experimental attitude of their near-neighbour, The Eden Project. Not content with producing outstanding still and sparking wines, the team here created a range of English Vermouths, and celebrate their special location with regular feasts and foodie events.  

The Essentials:

Location: Trethurgy, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 8YQ. Click here for directions.

Useful Visiting Info: Wine sampling, winery tours, and ‘winemaker’ tours all take place at Trethurgy and are reasonably priced (tastings start at £5). Knightor also serves Sunday Lunch each week – booking essential.

Top Tip: Look out for news of themed Feast Nights and other foodie events taking place at Trethurgy, and also at Knightor’s satellite vineyard at Portscatho.

Knightor owns vineyards at Seaton in South East Cornwall and Portscatho on the Roseland Peninsular, and also sources fruit from other local growers. These small parcels of high-quality grapes are bought to the winery at Trethurgy, which is where the tours and tastings take place.

Tours at Knightor are interesting, fun and informative. Guests are given an insight into the small-batch techniques which allow the expert wine-makers to work with their greatest variable – the British climate. 

The parcels of fruit are either blended or made into single varietal wines depending on their characteristics. Bottling runs are often less than 2000 and wine-making techniques are applied with a light touch – for example cool ferments and minimal use of oak allow the quality of the fruit to shine through. Some wines (like Mena Hweg – see below) are aged before release, but most are intended to be drunk young and fresh, as they are light and fruity, with good acidity.

In 2016, Knightor launched its first Cornish Vermouth, going on to create a whole family of these ‘aromatised wines’. Vermouth was traditionally drunk in Italy as an aperitif, however it became popular chiefly as the main component in classic cocktails including the Martini, the Manhattan and the Negroni.

To make the Cornish Vermouth a base wine, which is normally used to make Knightor’s award-winning sparkling wines, is blended with an Eau de Vie infused with 24 herbs and spices – many of which are grown, gathered or sourced locally. The base wine and the Eau de Vie are then left to integrate and mature together, resulting in a intense but balanced Vermouth which can be enjoyed with ice and lemon, or in a cocktail. 

Adaptability and innovation are producing some great wines full of character at Knightor. Here are a few to try:

  • Mena Hweg – (2013/2014 vintages available) is inspired by the renowned sweet wines of Germany and is made from Schonburger – a Germanic grape variety which is suited to cool, maritime climates. An unusually sweet wine for the UK.
  • Roseland Rose, 2018 – All of the grapes were picked by hand from vineyards at Portscatho on the Roseland Peninsula to create this fruity, pale pink wine. Flavours of English red fruits leap out of the glass, making this a perfect aperitif for a summers’ day.
  • White Vermouth – Multiple layers of aromas and flavours make this an intense taste experience! Floral notes, citrus fruits, herbs and a touch of bitterness all make this a great choice for cocktail fans.
  • Rose Vermouth – This is fresh and fruity initially, backed up by herbs, spice and a touch of bitterness to give complexity. Serve simply with ice, soda and a slice of orange for the perfect Cornish pick-me-up!

To find out a bit more about Knightor Winery visit their website. 

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Images courtesy of Knightor Winery

CategoriesFood & Drink