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A Drop of Vinspiration: Wine Tours and Tastings at Knightor

A Drop of Vinspiration: Wine Tours and Tastings at Knightor

There’s no better way to learn about wine than from the root up - something that the team at Knightor fully embrace. A fresh, innovative winery and vineyard in Cornwall, Knightor is home to a relatively small, yet passionate and driven team dedicated to producing some of the best English wines on the market. With a working winery based in four acres of land near St Austell and a three-hectare vineyard on the Roseland, Knightor’s vignerons combine an industrious approach, seasoned expertise, and the best of Cornish climes to create wines that are as delicious as they are unique. Naturally, we wanted to learn more.

Tending to manicured vineyards at Knightor in Portscatho, the Roseland

Taking our opportunity to find out more about Cornish wines and tasting experiences in Cornwall, some of the Boutique Retreats team journeyed over to Knightor’s Roseland site, established by owner and founder, Adrian Derx. Taking the heritage King Harry Ferry service (operating since 1888) to cross the emerald banks of the Carrick Roads and following wildflower lanes through patchwork countryside, our approach was one of novel-worthy beauty. Depicting nostalgia-inducing landscapes and fuelling excited anticipation (because, well, wine), it made for a stunning green carpet arrival to our vineyard tour.

The exterior of the Vine pop-up restaurant at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

Arriving onsite at Knightor, neat rows of expertly tended vines stretching in parallel formation and the handsome, wood-clad exteriors of the vineyard’s pop-up restaurant, The Vine, cast a striking scene. A tapestry of green above the picture-perfect village of Portscatho, the flourishing vineyard is located on sun-drenched, south-facing slopes and boasts far-reaching views over country and coast. Even better, a big, bright, orange orb of sun had taken its place overhead in cloudless skies for our tour, beaming at us with exuberance and bathing the vines in brilliant sunshine.

Red wine served on the bar at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

To meet us there were Knightor’s Head Winemaker, David Brocklehurst, and Marketing Executive, Gemma Kettle. Steadfast champions of Knightor and proponents of Cornish wines, both David and Gemma were keen to show us around the site and explain the processes involved in winemaking as part of Knightor’s tours and tastings. Exuding a welcoming air, Knightor’s team aim to make the world of wine, and Cornish wine in particular, accessible to all, and it is this relaxed, inclusive atmosphere that is immediately palpable. Or should we say, pulpable.

Inside the Vine restaurant at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

Getting started, our guides navigated us towards the core of the vineyard. First planted in 2007 and yielding in 2009, the vineyard today is now a picture of manicured verdure, with leafy tangles and winding tendrils clinging to sun-bleached trellises. Among the rows, an assortment of grape species best suited to the Cornish soils and elements are nurtured and grown, including Bacchus, Seyval Blanc, Rondo and Pinot Noir Précoce, a hardy, hybrid grape. Emphasis on the hardy.

Plucking the vines at at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

Handpicked for their distinct properties and qualities, the grapes grown at Knightor can be used for red, white and sparkling wines. Early ripeners, they are specifically chosen for their abilities to adapt and thrive in the sometimes mercurial Cornish climate, which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t always sunny. “The nature of British weather”, David explained, “means that our grapes are subjected to many challenges. In Cornwall, we are prone to experiencing unexpected rain as well as intense sunshine, so we monitor the weather closely and harvest according to year-on-year conditions. This means that each wine is very much a product of its year”.

Swilling a glass of white wine at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

“The vines are dormant in winter, bud in spring, and flower in early summer. To know when the grapes are finally right for picking, you have to measure the sugar and the acidity levels (high for sparkling and low for still) and also read the weather. For example, you can take your reading and then be forced to make a decision, say, if you know a lot of rain is later forecast. Each annual pick across the whole site takes four to six weeks depending on the grapes, and we usually start to pick from early September onwards each year, until as late as mid-November depending on the conditions. That’s if the birds haven’t got there first”.

A bottle of Knightor Vintage Cuvee at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

Faced with surprisingly numerous environmental and elemental challenges and considerations, it’s not hard to see why Knightor’s team are so proud of the final results. It’s also impossible not to be equally swept away by the passion and enthusiasm of those who live and breathe the site. Guiding us past row upon row of vines, David’s encyclopaedic knowledge of both the vineyard and wine production curated a captivating narrative. Clearly, not one inch of the site was beyond his expert eye.

Bottles of Knightor wine and a charcuterie spread at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

Accommodating a flexible approach, Knightor focuses on producing both core and experimental wines, allowing the winery to nurture a staple collection and experiment with different styles too. Of course, this all means that no wine is ever precisely the same, and of the forty to sixty thousand bottles produced each year, each one is an ephemeral snapshot of time. It’s perhaps this that makes each vintage so special, and adds to the exclusive appeal of Cornish wines over more commercial foreign imports.

Wine tasting at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

Wine tours and tasting at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

Encouraging us to try the fruits of the vine and sample different vintages, Gemma and David guided us back to The Vine after the tour and presented us with a handpicked selection of wines, along with a delicious charcuterie spread. Amongst the selection were Knightor’s 2013 Vintage Cuvée, a 2022 Bacchus and a 2022 Pinot Noir Rosé. We also tried Knightor’s Rosso Vermouth (one of four vermouths they produce) and a deliciously refreshing rosé wine cocktail, Knightor’s Aprèz Spritz. Each with their own personalities and flavours, they perfectly showcased the versatility and creativity of Knightor’s offerings and reflected the quality of production that is placing Cornish wines firmly on the global map.

Knightor's Aprez Spritz at Knightor Vineyard on the Roseland

Adding to the appeal, Gemma explained, Knightor goes beyond the wine itself and aims to create spaces where people can learn, socialise and relax. With Knightor’s St Austell winery and event venue and Portscatho vineyard and summer restaurant, each destination is an attraction in its own right where people can enjoy tours, purchase favourite bottles, and simply savour the setting. “We host everything from vineyard and winery tours and tastings by day, to feasts and music events by night that are open to everyone. The atmosphere is always inclusive and there’s always something to look forward to”.

The Vine at Knightor Vineyard in Portscatho, the Roseland

If you would like to learn more about Knightor and, most importantly, sample some of the incredible wines, seasonal guided winery tours run from April to October and vineyard tours are available in July and August. Adhoc workshops and experiences, including Cornish cocktail masterclasses, take place at select times during the year, alongside regular events. Needless to say, whether you’re looking for an introduction to wine or the opportunity to sip back and relax, unmissable moments are waiting to be had at Knightor.

The beautiful Hemmick beach on the Roseland

The Roseland

The beautiful Roseland Peninsula lies in one of the most untouched areas of Cornwall. Jutting out into the sea, the peninsula is only a stone’s throw (or ferry crossing) from many South Coast highlights, yet feels idyllically far removed from the rest of the county. To extend your foodie exploration during your adventures, take a trip to one of the many coastal gastro hotspots on the Roseland, including the Michelin-recommended Idle Rocks in St Mawes and Driftwood in Portscatho. For more sensational feast nights, the renowned Hidden Hut is also just a short distance from Knightor’s vineyard and hosts unique experiences in Cornwall serving incredible food by the sea.

Feast nights at the Hidden Hut on the Roseland

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