I’m lucky in my job as Brand Ambassador, I get to work with some of the most accomplished Sommeliers in the world. Aside from anything else, regular contact with them allows me to build up a clear picture of the London drinking scene in top restaurants. What I can say with the utmost confidence is that English wine is by far the hottest category of the moment.
We are a step closer to establishing ‘Sussex’ as a quality marque for wine, as DEFRA have submitted the PDO application to the European Commission. It will now go out to consultation with all EU member states and become a protected name under the EU GI scheme. It’s official, it’s on the DEFRA website.
We just bottled our 2016 sparkling wines, around 43,000 bottles and 3,200 magnums. Until this year we had been bottling at 2,500 bottles per hour, which worked fine for smaller production. We are now starting to get volumes of wine that require higher speed for bottling and this is the kind of equipment we have been looking at for when the time comes to purchase.
We are half way through our summer season of pop up restaurants at Rathfinny Wine Estate. We’ve welcomed many guests to our Winery Tasting Room to enjoy food created by some incredible chefs. Corks have been popped, eggs have been cracked and bellies have been filled.
After another stint of sailing we are both back and getting used to life on dry land. It’s not hard to do with all this lovely weather we are having. Look how well the vines and grapes are doing …
It was full on last weekend with Alfest, the festival that showcases Sussex food and wine along with music on the Tye in our local village, Alfriston. We sponsored and set this up last year together with our award-winning neighbours, Longman Brewery and the Star Inn . It was an absolutely fantastic day with delicious
So if you read Sarah’s recent blog you’ll know that for the last three months I’ve been fulfilling a childhood ambition to sail across the Pacific. Not to outdone by my youngest son who is on a gap year before heading to Manchester University in September, I thought I’d take the opportunity to travel before we launch our first sparkling wine next year. We set off from Cartagena in Colombia, passed through the Panama Canal to the Galapagos Islands and then on to French Polynesia. It was the most amazing trip and so much has happened since I’ve been away:
I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘science’ of food and wine pairing. Is it actually a science, or is it down to personal choice? Are there rules to follow, or is it all common sense? Well, since taking a closer look at my own experiences and talking to various luminaries in the food and wine world, I’ve come to the view it’s a bit of everything.
Well, the past week really has been something.
I arrived back from a week of Nuffield studies in Canada on Sunday to discover, not only the Vineyard bathed in heat and sunshine but, the first flowers starting to appear. What better time for a heat wave to hit the UK than right at the start of flowering. Normally flowering will drag out over at least a couple of weeks but hopefully not this year.
After unexpected delays, as our bottle supplier ran out of bottles, we’re finally getting ready to cold stabilize our wines prior to bottling in July. This year, we decided to ask a contractor from France to come with an electro-dialysis unit. We wanted to see how it works and familiarize ourselves with it before we actually purchase one, hopefully in early 2018, so we can treat the 2017 wines prior to bottling.
Its been a busy few weeks on the Estate (when is there a quiet time?!) with plenty of guests and the English wine has been flowing. Behind the scenes the vines and the wildlife on the Estate have been going through some changes. The opening image is of a dropwort flower which is showing well on the chalk grassland slopes of Cradle Valley at the moment.
As some of you may know Mark (and our son Archie) have been away fulfilling a life time dream of sailing across the Pacific. Whilst I did the first part, Colombia to Galapagos via the Panama Canal, I’ve missed out the big, scary middle bit of almost 3000 miles and am going to join them for the last bit. Someone has to be at work! It’s meant that I’ve been a ‘solo boss’ for the last 6 weeks and, don’t tell Mark, I’ve really enjoyed it. Also don’t tell him that on sunny days I drive around the Estate too fast with country music blaring!
May 27 – June 4
Whitsun brings English Wine Week. We have our regular Vineyard tours on the 26, 27 and 28 May. Additionally, if you are visiting the Gun Room on Saturday May 27th you will be able to purchase wine by the glass from noon. Look out for Plumpton Estate’s The Dene (sparkling) and our own Hobbs Hawth (still). Why not enjoy a glass in our courtyard café with complimentary nibbles?
Since starting as Brand Ambassador for Rathfinny 6 months ago, I’ve been involved in arranging some memorable visits to the Estate. From Sommeliers, Executive Chefs to Restaurant Managers, all have been so positive about what we’re doing, and can’t wait to get their hands on our Sparkling when it’s released!