On sunny south-facing slopes near Penzance, Kim and John Coulson have made a name for themselves as critically-acclaimed producers of modern, food-friendly Cornish wines and ciders. A visit for a tour and tasting is a great way to discover more about growing grapes in the Cornish climate, and what makes Cornish wines so special.
Location: Polgoon Vineyard & Orchard, Rosehill, Penzance. Click here for directions.
Visiting Info: Summer Tours (£12.50 per person, children go free) run April to September and various other events take place throughout the year, including winter tours of the production facilities. The shop is open every day, and the Vine House Kitchen’s opening hours vary throughout the year.
Top Tip: Visit towards the end of the summer to see how the grapes are fairing ahead of the harvest.
One of the first things you will learn on a trip to Polgoon is that choosing the right grape varieties is crucial in the British climate. Ortega, Rondo, Bacchus and Seyval Blanc are the principal varieties grown here, however last year for the first time the Coulson’s made a single-variety, single-estate, Sauvignon Blanc. The experiment has been hailed as a great success, helped in part by the good weather last summer.
The vines at Polgoon are trained higher than is usual specifically to promote air circulation; damp coastal air means that the biggest challenge in terms of viticulture is disease caused by humidity. The gentle south-facing slopes provide good drainage and sunshine, and heavy frosts are very rare.
Wine buffs often comment on the minerality, a quality which comes from the soil – of Polgoon white wines. Some people also detect a hint of salinity from the sea air, and notes of elderflower from the surrounding fields. All those characteristics make these whites perfect partners for Cornish seafood – we recommend lunch and a glass of Polgoon on the terrace at Porthminster Beach Café in nearby St Ives, delicious!
The tours also take visitors through the pretty apple orchards at Polgoon. This side of the business was born out of the uncertainty of making wine in the Cornish climate, where bad weather at key times of the year can lead to a poor harvest. The ciders and soft drinks are now very popular in their own right.
After a look around the winery where all the fruit is processed, aged and bottled, the tours finish with a wine tasting. It’s fascinating to be talked through each wine and, having seen the vines first hand, tour guests gain a good insight into how all sorts of factors such as climate, geology and wine making techniques affect the final product in the glass.
In the Vine House Kitchen (opening hours vary, check the website), platters of local cheeses and charcuterie are served alongside fresh Newlyn crab sandwiches, Baker Tom’s breads and juicy olives. It’s the perfect way to complete your Polgoon experience, especially as every plate is matched with a suggested wine or cider!
To find out a bit more about Polgoon visit their website.
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Images courtesy of Polgoon