As we started harvest on Monday, I was thinking about our workforce. I always say our team, now about 30 people, are our greatest asset. Everyone, and I mean everyone who works at Rathfinny, comes to work genuinely engaged in their job and, best of all, seemingly proud and committed to be working there. I love it.
It’s always been important to us to build a local workforce and despite some scepticism from some quarters, we seem to be achieving just that. It has been hard and we’ve had a few false starts, but now we are building up a team of local people who come not only to harvest in October, but to prune in January/February.
Another idea we’ve been keen to develop is to embrace the ‘old’ idea of working holidays, like the hop picking days of the past. It’s harder to do at this time of year with kids (though half term is coming up) but that still leaves lots of others out there who may like it. The idea is that you come to stay, ideally for a week, in our beautiful Flint Barns, and pick every day from 8-4. It costs £22 a day for full board (and the food is delicious) – which is basically covered by your wages in just under your first 3 hours of the day.
Someone said to me they thought that seemed expensive, but I disagree, especially when I heard that homeless people in Lewes are being charged £20 a night for a bed in one place, without food! A hearty breakfast, packed lunch and then a stroll home at the end of the day to a beautiful and comfortable place to stay, followed by a delicious dinner, all for £22 and money in your pocket seems good to me. If you are interested then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org though it is getting a bit late for this year.
On a different note, working at Rathfinny has become a family affair. A few years ago we were guests of the Taittinger family in France and the very first question M. Taittinger asked me was – “Who in your family is going to work in your business? It is very important to have the family involved.” Well at the moment, it seems like everyone! Millie has joined us, supporting Georgia in her work which covers developing all the business not to do with wine – the Gun Room, the Flint Barns and Winery and all the events. She’s got us up to speed with our systems (how do young people know what to do so easily?) and is full of good ideas. In addition, she’s supporting our whole strategy about taking our wine to market, identifying restaurants, sommeliers, chefs and keeping us up to speed with what is going on in the wider ‘social’ world. You can follow her on twitter @RathfinnyMillie. Our idea too is that through her, as her wine knowledge develops, she ‘takes’ her generation on a journey, ideally from Prosecco as an entry point choice to our delicious Sussex Sparkling wine.
Brook, our eldest son, has long been supporting our social media engagement and he works weekly with Mark on this. Archie, having finished at school, has worked in the vineyard all summer and will continue to do so until he leaves on his travels after Christmas and Faye is roped into waitressing and working in the Gun Room when she’s back from university. Everyone is obviously involved in harvest. So, whilst I was initially sceptical about M. Taittinger’s question, thinking they could decide for themselves, it seems that they are doing and it’s great to have them involved.
Just a quick final note of reminders:
We have our ever popular “Christmas Shopping Day” in the Gun Room on Saturday, 26th November. Join us to see our new collection, try some wine and remember we’ll make up hampers for free.
Our tours are completely sold out for this year, but new dates come out next week and they make great Christmas presents. You can order on-line and we post the beautifully made up vouchers in small, ribboned boxes to the recipients for you. Due to high demand for places, we have added Sundays to our Fridays and Saturdays every month, for both the Lunch and Tea Tour.