When ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie planted their first eight thousand vines in 1989, they never dreamed of the phenomenal success they would achieve within 2 decades. They had bought their farm in the heart of the Cornish countryside several years earlier, seeking a change from service life and the perfect place to bring up their young family, and initially farmed sheep and cattle. Each summer they watched the grass turn brown on the sun-drenched slopes of the Camel Valley, and wondered if vines might enjoy such an aspect.
Bob 'did a vintage' in Germany and both took viticulture courses and read every vine and wine book they could find. They built a winery and equipped it with the finest equipment they could afford. Annie is the first to admit the early years weren't easy: 'We practically lived in the vineyard, doing all the work by hand, and when it came to harvest time it was just us and a few friends for picking, then Bob would stay up all night crushing the grapes. But we loved it, always striving for perfection in the vineyard and the winery, and then we won a medal in the national English Wine competition for our first wine, so we knew we were doing something right.'
More awards followed over the years, with Camel Valley wines consistently winning medals at both national and international level. In 2002 Bob and Annie won the Waitrose Drinks Producer of the Year Award, and the following year the South West Business Challenge award for Creating Wealth in the Rural Community. Bob continued as Winemaker, but now had a small team of full time staff to help in the vineyard and a new state of the art winery, and had started making Cornwall's first Traditional Method sparkling wine as well as still wines. His finest moment came in 2005 with an International Wine Challenge Gold Medal for Camel Valley 'Cornwall' sparkling wine. 'I was so proud to have won this, as our wine was up against the finest wines in the whole world and was the only gold medal awarded to a non-Champenoise wine. I really felt that I had set the standard for generations to come.'
Annie still tends her original 5000 vines and is the only person to have winter pruned every vine every year since 1989.