As we head into December I find myself looking back on what was a very very busy year.
In February we disgorged our first sparkling wines to be released. Our 2014 Blanc de Blancs and 2015 Rosé.
In the Vineyard, we were hit by the ‘beast from the East’ which delayed budburst and made pruning particularly challenging. The wet winter also delayed our new plantings.
At the end of April we launched our first Sussex Sparkling wines to rave reviews at a great party at Somerset House…
In May we were very honoured when HRH Princess Royal Princess Ann visited Rathfinny Wine Estate to officially open our new Cellar and Bottling / wine processing buildings. That was a particularly good day as HRH spent time with everyone connected with the business.
In June we closed the Gun Room and moved the Cellar Door operation up to the Winery. We opened the Tasting Room for drop-in visitors and now provide lunches and dinners in our wonderful new restaurant overlooking the vines. If you haven’t been you really must try it, the food is superb and the wines are pretty good as well!
We held various events over the summer … our wines were sold as part of the Royal Wedding afternoon teas at the lovely Savoy and we held an exclusive ‘Rathfinny on the roof’ event at the fantastic Ham Yard Hotel. Our sparkling wines are now on sale at some of London’s top restaurants.
Summer 2018 proved to be very warm, nearly 2oC warmer than average and the vines soon caught up from the late bud burst. Flowering was early and the fruit set was very good as it was warm and dry. Even August proved to drier than normal and September was nice and warm and dry.
We then headed off to Hong Kong and to launch our wines in the territory in the fantastic Arcane restaurant and on the rooftop bar Popinjays at the Murray Hotel. We have limited stock available in Hong Kong but the wines are now on the list at several top restaurants.
As September rolled on it became clear that 2018 was to be a bumper year for English wine. Unlike the previous two year avoided late spring frosts and with perfect flowing conditions and a lovely warm summer yields overall were double those of recent years. Because of our location so close to the sea, we don’t suffer from late spring frosts, but our vines have now matured and many of them produced very healthy yields of lovely ripe fruit.
We found ourselves harvesting two weeks earlier than 2016 and 2017 and the fruit was of a great quality. In fact, we had so much fruit we had to order new tanks which only arrived just after harvest had started. We were lucky to get such a great group of local pickers who all seemed to enjoy themselves, some came from further afield and stayed in the fantastic Flint Barns and many have pledged to come back and help with winter pruning and come back to help with harvest next year…
The wine is now sitting in tanks or barrels in the Winery, whilst our new bottling and disgorging equipment are being fitted into the new Bottling building.
What a year 2018 has turned out to be. Launching our new first sparkling wines in London and Hong Kong, opening a new Cellar Door and Tasting Room restaurant. A fantastic harvest hand-picked by a great group of local pickers and now we have excellent wine in the tank which will be ready for blending in March 2019 and be released in 2021.
All I can say is a big thank you to all our wonderful, hardworking, staff. It’s been a great year, enjoy the rest of December and the break over the holidays and then we’ll be back into Winter pruning as the cycle starts all over again…