It will come as no surprise to you all that as of this Wednesday (18th March) in order to protect our staff and customers from spreading the Coronavirus, we have been forced to close the Tasting Room and Flint Barns. It has put considerable pressure on our business, with lost revenues and a mounting wage bill. The government is helping to bridge some of that gap with the suspension of business rates, a small grant to businesses and the provision of loans. However, loans don’t replace lost revenue and I would urge those of you who can help out your local businesses, to do so.
We are having to make adjustments with staffing to deal with closing the Tasting Room and Flint Barns and we are doing everything we can to protect jobs. We asked for flexibility from our hospitality team and from next week they will move across to the Vineyard to help with pruning and, in due course, into the Winery to help with labelling.
Chris Bailey, our chef from the Tasting Room restaurant, will be exchanging his kitchen knives for secateurs and putting them in his new cabinets. He will be joined by the whole hospitality team who have shown willingness and taken up the challenge to help out across the Estate, whilst we get through this crisis. We still have over 80,000 vines left to prune and tie-down before Easter, when the warmer weather will arrive and those buds will swell and burst. Once the vines are pruned we need to label all our Sussex Sparkling wine, which is due to be released in June this year. By this time we hope that we will be out of the crisis and will be able to celebrate with a glass of delicious Sussex Sparkling wine.
We have taken the decision to keep the Cellar Door open in the meantime and would encourage visitors, at a social distance – we will deliver to your car! As the Tasting Room is now closed we have limited amounts of our sparkling wine for sale now (previously unavailable) and we’re also offering free delivery of all our wines and Seven Sisters spirits within a 10-mile radius of the Estate. Alternatively, please seek out our wines listed through the various partners across the UK.
I want to thank all our hard-working staff and customers for showing patience, flexibility, and generosity of spirit; many of our customers converted deposits into vouchers to use on the estate at a future date. Thank you, it will really help us.
I hope you all remain fit and well. Please think about your neighbours, friends and family that are less able to look after themselves. We will get through this.