Follow our Vineyard through the seasons with pictures captured by our resident photographer, Viv Blakey. These stunning images offer a unique insight into the important Vineyard work that takes place all year round to ensure a bountiful harvest.
Post-harvest 2019, the vines are bare and the Vineyard team caught a break to catch up on much needed maintenance jobs.
From December to March our vines are dormant. This is when we do our pruning which keeps the vines in shape and regulates the yield.
Pruning, pruning and more pruning! Throughout January and February, our resilient Vineyard team hand-prune every single vine back to just two canes which is called the Single Guyot system. We like to make the vines work hard and want shoots to grow vertically from the cane to produce the best fruits.
If you visit our Vineyard, you’ll be spoilt for views. We love this shot of the February mist tumbling down the Cuckmere River and over the Seven Sisters. In February, we pruned the young vines that were planted last year.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the whole of the UK went into the highest level of lockdown measures in March. However, our Vineyard team were still deemed essential workers so social distancing measures were put in place to complete the winter pruning season.
As temperatures rise, new buds emerge, and shoots and leaves rapidly develop. After the spell of April showers, towards the middle of the month we were excited to see the first signs of bud burst. We thinned to avoid overcrowding and shifted the wires on the trellis for additional support.
In May, the Vineyard really started to come alive with wildflower corridors and boarders springing up across the Estate. Thankfully, due to our location being 5 miles from the sea, we avoided the spring frosts. Inflorescences (flower clusters) also appeared on some of the flowers showing the vines were full of vitality during this important growth period.
Vines, like all fruit, produce flowers and each tiny flower turns into a grape berry. As the vines flourished in the glorious Sussex Sunshine, our Vineyard team began shoot thinning and raising wires to keep the vines tamed when they began flowering.
July was an exciting month as we began welcoming visitors back to our Estate as lockdown measures eased. Whilst guests enjoyed picnics with our Sussex Sparkling wine, our dedicated Vineyard crew removed leaves and ‘tucked in’ the stray canes within tightened wires. We also remove leaves to ensure crucial light and warmth reaches the flowers. Do you remember we mentioned we like the vines to work hard?
After flowering we saw fruit set which led to ‘veraison’, a term of French origin, used to describe colour change in grape berries, from green to red. So begins the ripening process.
Throughout September, our Vineyard Technician, Stan was busy measuring sugar and acidity levels as the grapes began ripening. Because of this phenological change, the fruits become rather appealing to birds so the team added nets to the bottom of the vines to stop them from devouring our tasty grapes.
With our picking team from the local Sussex community proudly assembled, Harvest can begin on Monday. This year we’ll be carrying out strict social distancing measures and keeping groups in bubbles to work efficiently and safely. Harvest really is the best time of year at Rathfinny so check out our Harvest page on the website and plan a visit.
You can also read our Vineyard Technician, Stan’s blog for an insight into our 2020 Harvest.