I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about our research in conjunction with Sussex University on parasitic wasps and enhancing general biodiversity on the vineyard. Janine is undertaking the Phd research under the watchful eye of Professor Dave Goulson and the ground has been prepared and sown with the various mixtures. Sounds easy.
Now if that title has not stirred your interest nothing will.
Has winter arrived? Are the birds singing? Can we see ‘mother’ nature stirring from her slumber in the vineyard and in our gardens?
Phenology is the study of the cyclical change in nature in relation to the climate and the seasons. We were glad to see the temperature finally dip in the vineyard just in order for the vines to realise that they can stay a sleep a little longer. While they sleep through the winter they can take pretty much any climatic variation the UK can throw at them. During their sleep we still tend to them, as they are the most important element on the Estate (apologies Sarah) and they all get a haircut to regulate growth and stimulate grape production – this haircut is referred to as pruning and is far better described in Cam’s previous blog.
Harvest is just around the corner for Rathfinny Wine Estate and the tension is mounting!
While Jonathan Médard prepares and Cameron nurtures, other diverse things are happening on the Estate. Last month saw the launch of the South Downs Food and Drink Portal (http://www.southdownsfood.org) at our Winery. The portal is an interactive website where you can search for local food and drink providers, businesses and places to visit. Rathfinny sources as much of its food and drink from local providers as we can and it was great to meet so many more at this event, make new connections and of course try their produce (a number of times, just to make sure!)
Over the years many people for many reasons have carved figures into the chalk – from the Cerne Abbas Giant, Long Man of Wilmington and White Horse in the Cuckmere Valley near Alfriston, these dramatic ‘carvings’ have become both iconic and in some cases mysterious.
Rathfinny Estate are on a journey to produce internationally renowned sparkling wine, and now we have our own chalk work of art.
Ours is steeped in local history. Firstly, the shield itself – this has come from the Sussex county flag which depicts six martlets (these are heraldic swallows, and I can’t help thinking of the scene in Monty Pythons Holy Grail when they discuss air speed velocity of a Barn Swallow flying with a coconut – I’m not sure a heraldic swallow would get to Africa wearing a gold crown!). I digress.
This is one of the many quotations left to us by the great Winston Churchill. He finished by saying that the most important thing about education is “appetite”. Any of us could finish this sentence in a different way. Here at Rathfinny Estate we aim to whet the appetite as well as fulfil it. We are also aware that education does not stop when you leave school. The appetite may change, you may seek new ideas or just wish to look at the world via a different perspective.
In the English wine industry we are fortunate to have Plumpton College, which is affiliated to Brighton University, right on our doorstep. Plumpton has become world renowned for its courses in both vinification and viticulture. Many of our vineyard staff have been trained at Plumpton and continue to do so. The Estate were major supporters of the new Rathfinny Research Winery at the college to really hone the skills of their students which come from all over the world to study there.