Twelve minutes inland from the Scarlet hotel, nestled in the Cornish countryside is the working vineyard of Trevibban Mill producing some outstanding Cornish wine. Winemakers Engin and Liz Mumcuoglu give us some insight into the challenges of wine production in Cornwall and working in harmony with the local environment.
Tell us about Trevibban Mill and how the winery has grown
We purchased the land in 2007 with the intention of renovating the ruined mill as a second home but it also came with 25 acres of land. In place of the renovation, our thoughts turned to how we could best use the farmland. Many ideas were considered but in 2008 we purchased 11,000 vines, four varieties, and planted a 7-acre vineyard. In future years we also planted 1700 apple trees to produce cider and many other fruit and nut trees and bushes. We also purchased a flock of Southdown sheep to act as grass cutters. In 2014 we built our contemporary Winery building which also houses a bar and shop and in 2017 we fitted out the first floor as an event space, primarily for Appleton’s restaurant and weddings.
Can you tell us a little bit about the wines you produce?
We currently produce four still white wines, two still rosé, four sparkling wines and a red wine. However this varies and in a good harvest year we can experiment with other wines. For example, from our 2018 grapes harvest we have made a ‘no added Sulphite’ wine, three red wines (one will be with no sulphite added) and some fortified sweet red wine similar to a Port.
Do you have a favorite?
I personally like our current red wine, Black Ram and Liz likes the Constantine which is a lightly oaked Chardonnay blend that has spent some time in our French oak barrels. Liz also likes the 2014 Blanc de Blancs which is a Brut Nature – meaning it has no added sugar so is super dry. All our sparkling wines are made in the Champagne method.
How do you bring environmental considerations into your work?
From the beginning, we have farmed using organic methods. We do not use herbicides at all and plant a 1-acre field of wildflowers and green manure every year to attract pollinators for the fruit trees. The sheep help cut down the use of the tractor for cutting the grass in the vineyard and orchards, reducing fuel use and compaction of the soil. The south-facing roof of our Winery building is covered in solar panels. Our ancient hedgerows are teeming with wildflowers, fruits, birds and mammals.
What are the benefits of making wine in Cornwall?
The benefits of making wine in Cornwall are the mild weather. Although we do sometimes, in spring, get frost after the vine buds have burst, it is less often and less severe than in the South East of England and Northern Europe. Our location in Cornwall, particularly close to Padstow, gives us a large customer base from local residents, second homeowners and seasonal tourists. Because most Cornish farms are relatively small there is a real strength in the farming community and we have received a lot of support, both practical and knowledge based from local farmers. And of course, one other benefit is the quality of life that living in Cornwall brings.
What are the challenges?
The weather poses the major challenge to growing grapes in Cornwall, particularly the damp climate and wind. Wet weather at flowering can reduce the crop level and later in the season warm, wet weather can cause mildew. Another challenge is transport costs for example when we purchase specialist winery equipment and then later if we need to call in engineers to service the equipment. Many are based in the South East of England.
Trevibban Mill is a twelve-minute drive from the Scarlet and just a few miles from Padstow. Open Wednesday – Sunday 12pm – 5pm.