Winter on the Vineyard
Throughout the winter, our Vineyard and hardy team of local workers always face the challenge of disruptive weather, essential maintenance tasks and hand-pruning each and every vine. Despite a couple of storms and cold and wet mornings, nature always presents something that stops us in our tracks and makes the hard work worth the while.
Before you can say ‘White Rabbits’, spring is starting to show her colours with bright yellow daffodils and new-born baby lambs teetering on their hooves in the nearby farms. As we prepare for the arrival of spring, take a walk-through wintertime on the vineyard, captured in eight photographs by our resident photographer, Viv Blakey.
P.S you’ll want to read to the end for a spring surprise…
The golden morning sunlight during December’s winter solstice was magical and the vines prepared themselves for a long winter’s nap over the festive period. There is never a dull view on the Vineyard, but from this vantage point you can really appreciate the south-facing slopes which roll into the hills and valleys of the surrounding South Downs countryside and the eye follows the Cuckmere River as it courses into the English Channel. Even locals who have lived in the area for many years are often surprised to come across this breath-taking view.
We give our team thorough training when it comes to pruning as it’s important the vines have the best chance to flourish in the year ahead. We’ve been fortunate to recruit a fantastic local team, many of whom come back year after year and are now professional pruners. Our Vineyard Technician, Stan, is currently working on a pruning report which will be an interesting read! Find out more about our pruning technique in this blog post.
“The beauty of having a local labour force comes into play at pruning time. Pruning is an art and takes years to master, even a skilled pruner will occasionally be stumped by a vine. Some vines conform and others are just that little bit trickier.Â By having this local seasonal labour force, who will hopefully come back year-on-year, we can nurture a skilled workforce.” – Cameron Roucher, Vineyard Manager
As we’re located on the edge of the South Downs National Park, we are lucky to experience close encounters with a variety of birds and wildlife. During winter, many birds pass through the vineyard including the Kestrel Fauna pictured above, fieldfares, robins, starlings and of course the seagulls love to fly through the salty sea air. Did you know, we’ve planted around 17,000 trees across our Estate which the birds love!
A little less alive during winter, the roof which houses our Winery, Tasting Room restaurant and Cellar Door shop building is planted with a mix of local grass and plant varieties found in the South Downs National Park. This helps with insulation and allows the building to blend into the natural environment.
We welcomed a lot of walkers and their furry companions during winter to explore our Vineyard. The Rathfinny Trail is a 5-kilometre walk with talking posts situated along the way. A map can be collected from our Cellar Door shop which contains facts about our location, climate, wildlife and winemaking philosophy. Ask a member of staff if you would like a shorter or longer route – they all have their favourites! After the walk, we recommend treating yourself to a complimentary tasting at the Cellar Door tasting bar or extend your visit with lunch at the Rathfinny Tasting Room restaurant.
We had to include an image from the first sighting of snowdrops this year! The landscape can feel a little barren during winter, so when these white blooms popped up underfoot, they really put a spring in our step. Here’s a little fact for you: did you know, people who collect snowdrops are called Galanthophiles and can spend hundreds of pounds on a rare single bulb!
As we near the end of the pruning season, the mulchers roll in, trailing up and down the rows of vines, treating the soil with a fresh layer of pruning debris from last year’s growth and returning the nutrients back to the earth.
A New Art Installation
If you visit the Estate between March to August 2022, you will notice an exciting new structure has been constructed. We can’t give too much away just yet, but we can say we’re home to a new sculpture, co-ordinated by Sussex Modern, which has been erected on our land for the spring/summer season. Sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop!