“Our ambition is that in twenty years’ time you will walk into a bar or restaurant in New York or Beijing and you’ll be asked, “would you like a glass of Champagne or a delicious glass of Sussex? I can recommend Rathfinny.”
Mark & Sarah Driver, Rathfinny Owners
THE RATHFINNY VISION
Husband and wife, Mark and Sarah Driver, established the Rathfinny Wine Estate in 2010 on a working arable farm with the express intention of producing some of the world’s finest quality sparkling wines.
Our vision is about a great deal more than the production of outstanding Sussex Sparkling wine. Rathfinny aims to contribute something special to the unique spirit of place in this beautiful part of the South Downs, which has been farmed since medieval times.
THE PERFECT LOCATION
Did you know the Romans claimed that the best location to plant a vineyard was three miles from the sea? So here we are: located on the same band of chalk that forms the Paris Basin, running from Northern France into Southern England. This breath-taking south-facing slope in the South Downs of Sussex is one of England’s exceptional natural landscapes. The climate, chalk, soil and aspect make it the perfect site for producing world-class sparkling wine.
The Estate’s vines and trellises are being stitched into the past and growing out of the chalky soil into the future. The land, the existing buildings on the Estate, our local workforce and the communities around Rathfinny are as important as the wine produced.
Rathfinny’s first 50 acres of vines were planted in 2012. We eventually expect to have 350 acres under vines. We've planted three principal grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier as well as a small amount of Pinot Gris.
The time-honoured methods for making sparkling wine, developed over centuries in the Champagne region of France and elsewhere, are being adopted and refined at Rathfinny under the watchful eye of our experienced team.
As we reach the crown of the hill, a green and pleasant Sussex landscape is revealed: a sun-soaked, slanting bowl of 600 acres, protected from the prevailing winds by an escarpment of National Trust land. In the distance, blue and magnificent is the English Channel. This is Rathfinny Estate …
INVESTMENT IN THE WINE INDUSTRY
Rathfinny has always been committed to developing a local skilled workforce and we are extremely proud that the investment in time and training has given us a team of all ages and backgrounds, to support us in the expansion of the Vineyard and the Winery. We have also sponsored the construction of the Rathfinny Research Winery, part of the Plumpton College Wine Research Centre, which will further strengthen the industry’s knowledge and skills base.
CARING FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT
Rathfinny’s new buildings are constructed with locally-sourced materials, using sustainable technologies such as photovoltaic cells and wastewater recycling. We have worked with Natural England, the National Trust and the South Downs National Park to implement a programme of improvements to enhance wildlife habitats, while reviving and reclaiming areas of natural chalk grassland and creating wildlife corridors to improve biodiversity.
The Rathfinny project is not just about making wine: we are committed to supporting the wider ambitions of the English wine industry, and that means nurturing the skills required to fulfil its potential.