Rathfinny Wine Estate

Back to school

As the opening image illustrates, winter is slowly moving into spring.  The vines have finished their work for the time being and now receive their annual hair cut and my Estate vehicle requires the adornment of the obligatory bobble hat.

My rhetorical question for this blog is – do we ever stop learning?  Sometimes it makes my head hurt just thinking about all the things I should know.  Cameron has already illustrated in his previous blog how he will be going global in spreading his knowledge and at the same time being able to absorb even more facts on vines and viticulture through his Nuffield scholarship.  Jonathan is very patient with my never ending questioning of how and why when I disturb him in the lab.  I’m just thankful that we have these professionals here on our Estate.  (NB I don’t tend to use the term ‘expert’ as my father always told me it was only a “spent drip”).

I’ve recently ventured from my comfort zone of all things wine and have commenced a programme with local schools.  Late last year we took part in East Sussex County Councils Open Door initiative for local schools and welcomed 16 students to the Estate.  We provided them with an insight into the vast array of job roles found on a vineyard.  The obvious ones being vineyard manager and wine maker – but when you realise that these two positions have knowledge which includes chemistry or geology, then we have roles which include accountants, chefs, service staff, vineyard workers, marketing, sales and even an Ambassador!  I was fairly confidant that after their time here the students realised it wasn’t just about treading some grapes and placing the juice into a bottle.

school
This is me about to break into song for some of the students.  Highlighting the broad array of ‘talent’ on offer here at Rathfinny.

Rathfinny have now joined the East Sussex Enterprise Adviser Network.  As an adviser I’ve been linked to a specific local school and will now support them in their priority areas for the students.  After meeting with various teachers and the Head, we were able to produce a list of ways I could possibly assist them.  My first engagement was a day spent with students honing their interview skills.  They supplied me with a CV and an outline of their preferred role and I then interviewed them.  After each interview feedback was provided to all the students where we discussed everything from University courses, extra curricular learning and the softer skills required to really stand out in an interview.  This year I will concentrate on providing the students with a more in depth understanding of the roles we have here, where people have been taught, studied and trained.  Further 1 to 1 sessions are planned along with visits to other schools to support them where I can

Every time I meet the students or the teachers I’m learning too – so my answer is – we never ever stop learning.

I’ll raise a glass of Sussex to that.

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