THE SCION OF CAMEL VALLEY
SAM LINDO CARRIES ON A FAMILY WINEMAKING TRADITION IN CORNWALL.
Most English winemakers are first generation in the business, often trained as professionals at wine-hub Plumpton College in Sussex, but Sam Lindo was brought up at Camel Valley winery near Bodmin in Cornwall, the son of pioneering Cornish winemakers Bob and Annie Lindo. He’s part of English wine nobility, if you like.
Despite that, he majored in mathematics in the mid-90s, then worked for a year in Singapore, when Camel Valley was a much smaller business. He always worked at the winery during holidays, though, and became increasingly drawn to the winemaking skills. He joined his father as assistant winemaker in 2002, taking some time out at a New Zealand winery in 2006 to learn more about cooler-climate techniques.
Today Camel Valley makes on average 130,000 bottles a year. Sam has been head winemaker for nearly a decade, though Bob still works with him as part of the team. The exquisitely made sparklers, both brut and rosé, are the stars of a range which also includes very fine still whites (their dry still bacchus is especially delicious).
Sam has a particular love for pinot noir — a key grape in his sparkling wines. “I remember the scent and flavor of the grapes from an early age,” he says. “English-grown pinot noir has a delicacy almost like a light jelly made with strawberries and raspberries — it’s quite unique.” Ask him more about his job and he cites the 12-minute “commute” (i.e., walk) through the vineyards to work as a major draw! If there’s a downside to the work, it is surely the unpredictable English climate, but Sam says he gets “quite excited” when the weather presents a challenge. “It forces you into a different space and that’s where you make discoveries about blending and so on. And harvesttime is very special. The sheer anticipation and pace over six intense weeks is amazing.”
Bob set the standard for major awards at the winery when he won a prestigious International Wine Challenge gold medal for Camel Valley’s Cornwall sparkler in 2005. Sam has now picked up an impressive clutch of awards as head winemaker, including in 2007, Winemaker of the Year from the UK Vineyards competition, a gold medal in Decanter World Wine Awards in 2009 for Camel Valley Cornwall Sparkling Pinot Noir, and, most magnificently perhaps, the trophy for Best International Traditional Method Sparkling Wine in Verona in 2010, ahead of several big-name Champagnes. And in 2017, the Camel Valley Brut Sparkling 2013 was introduced in British Airways firstclass cabins.
With the new generation of talented young winemakers like Sam, the future of English wine looks, well, positively sparkling!