Vineyard Technician, Stan is one of our B Corp champions. Not only is he driving sustainable initiatives on the Vineyard and our wider Estate, but he also  meticulously assesses our grapes to strike the perfect balance between acidity and sugars to uphold the highest quality standards required to meet the Sussex PDO.

Words by Stan

Harvest 2023 is now over at Rathfinny Wine Estate. Our Vineyard and Winery teams have done a brilliant job. There have been long days and plenty of rainfall, with over 230mm falling during four weeks of picking. We brought in an impressive yield, with bunch numbers being particularly numerous this year.

Grapes going into Press
Stan Grape Picking

As always, our eventual crop tells the story of sunlight, rainfall, wind and other variables throughout the year. 2023’s growing season could be easily summarised as a warm, but wet one. That does not, however, tell the whole story. We had a dry spring, with no significant rainfall between early-May and late-June. July was cooler and much windier than usual. Then, of course, we had the sweltering heat of September and early-October.

Amongst the UK’s wine production narrative, it is often cited that rising global temperatures have been beneficial for UK wine production. There is, however, a caveat. Rising annual temperatures also bring with them with extreme weather events. Frosts in May and some vineyards will lose their first shoot growth. Rain in June and flowering could be poor, limiting yields. Following a few years of tricky weather events, we have been fortunate, this year, to have not suffered due to another roller-coaster year of weather.

Growing grapes in a cool climate region, there is always going to be challenges. Our long growing season, from April to late-October, does sometimes feel like growing on a knife’s edge. That being said, our teams always rises to the occasion and just like that, we have brought in another successful crop.

Looking out at the vines, they are now void of fruit and their canopy is falling. I always find this brings, mostly, a feeling of relief and exhaustion, but there is a bit of emptiness there too as it is such a climatic part of the year. 2023 was my eighth harvest on the Estate and while there is always a feeling of harvest hangover, it’s exciting to discover what the vintage holds when the wines are released in a few years which always brings the stories out and the memories back.