Once a working arable farm in the South Downs of Sussex, Rathfinny’s first 50 acres of vines were planted in April 2012. All of our grapes come from our single-site Vineyard, which means we have 385,000 vines across 93 hectares (230 acres). Rathfinny’s vines are set out on an ideal south-facing slope, just three miles from the English Channel where its unique micro-climate and the free-draining chalky soils create superb grape-growing conditions.

Rathfinny Vineyard Sussex


We source and plant only the finest vines at Rathfinny. The varieties planted are predominantly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier for our English Sparkling wines. In addition, we have smaller blocks of Pinot Gris for our Cradle Valley still wine.

Rathfinny Estate Landscape July


Rathfinny lies on the same band of chalk that forms the Paris Basin, running from Northern France into Southern England and then out beneath the Atlantic. This Cretaceous geological phenomenon is the result of aeons of the chalky deposits left by marine organisms over 100 million years ago, which were then heaved upwards, tectonically, at the same time as the Alps, to become part of the land forming the famous South Downs. This provides the vines with shallow but fertile, well-drained chalky soil ideal for growing sparkling wine grapes. The chalk works like a sponge adsorbing water throughout the year, providing a ready source of water for the vines during the warm dry summer months.

Seven Sisters Cliffs


Rathfinny lies within three miles of the English Channel, giving it a semi-continental maritime climate that provides protection from late frosts. The Vineyard is predominantly south-facing and, remarkably, is protected from the worst of the prevailing south westerlies by a natural ridge that runs along the southern edge of the Estate. An exceptional sunshine record and moderate annual rainfall, combined with a low frost risk and free-draining, chalky soil, are ideal for producing grapes of outstanding quality. A long and steady growing season allows grapes to ripen and develop their flavours as well as their natural balance of acids and sugars.

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…

Sunday Telegraph


Discover the journey our Sussex Vineyard takes each year.

Vineyard crew pruning the vines

December to March

The vines are dormant. This is when we do our pruning which keeps the vines in shape and regulates the yields.

Man shoot thinning a spring vines whilst sitting on a stool


As temperatures rise, new buds emerge and shoots and leaves develop rapidly. We thin out to avoid overcrowding and shift support wires on the trellis for additional support.



Vines, like all fruit, produce flowers and each tiny flower turns into a grape berry. We remove leaves to ensure crucial light and warmth reaches them.



The grapes change colour from green as they ripen, known as Veraison. The red varieties go to red and purple while the white varieties go through various shades of green to a translucent yellow gold. We use nets to deter birds in some areas.

Man carrying grape picking boxes


All our fruit is harvested by hand, over 3-4 weeks, using about 200 local pickers.

Post Harvest Vines


We all enjoy a short break to catch up on much needed maintenance jobs!

New Vineyard Managers

Meet our Vineyard Managers

After 13 years, our first Vineyard Manager, Cameron Roucher decided to move closer to home in Australia, passing the baton to our joint Vineyard Managers, Ian Bray and David Andrews.

Ian and David bring a combined 26 years of experience working in Vineyards across the UK. They both attended Plumpton College, graduating with Foundation Degrees in Wine Science before joining Rathfinny more than 10 years ago. They have both been instrumental in planting the Vineyard from the ground up.