Finally it’s starting to feel like winter.
We’re getting frosty starts, and colder days, still plenty of rainy one’s too but we’re managing to work around those.
This winter we have almost 240,000 vines to prune, which is no small task.
Is it me or did this half term holiday seem to come round really very quickly? Looking at the BBC weather forecast for the next week it looks like it could be bright and sunny, but chilly. That sounds like perfect weather for getting out and about – why not come and have a good ramble on the Rathfinny Trail and pop in to our café for a well-deserved hot drink and piece of cake or even come up for a tasty lunch? The café will be open 10am to 4pm every day over the half term period, why not lounge by a log fire with the daily newspapers.
Who knew how long it takes to do a new website? Well I do now and it’s a very long process that has seen me sitting concentrating for hours on end on spellings, making sure links go to the right place, consistency of style and so much more. Basically all the things that bore my husband to bits.
Which reminds me that this is what I spend much of my time doing at Rathfinny – checking other people’s letters, blogs, all our literature and documentation because for some reason or other, we seem to attract a lot of people who can’t spell (dyslexics by another name!) When Jamie joined us, I thought – yes, someone else to share the burden – until one week later he confessed that he couldn’t help on that front and in fact would be adding to my work load as he too is … dyslexic! I can forgive all this however because I know first hand the great other qualities dyslexics bring to the workplace, not least their ability to think creatively and tackle problems from a different angle. (By the way, I must quickly add that I do not include Richard in this category and he helps out on the checking too.)
Two articles have appeared this week on the excellent Berry Brothers and Rudd blog site to do with the Sussex PDO, which is still pending submission by DEFRA to the European Commission.
A recent article in Decanter discussed whether or not to disclose and/or display disgorgement dates on bottles of sparkling wines. I was horrified to read that a Champagne producer thinks “that the recent obsession with disgorgement dates is reducing the winemaking process in Champagne to insignificant numbers which are not understood by most of the people talking about them”. What a way to think about your customers!
It’s great to see that all the flooding that has been around Alfriston is starting to dissipate, from our view on the hill it looked like the whole Cuckmere Valley was one big lake. Thankfully the wind and rain has abated this week and we are seeing more traditional wintery days now. It’s a little bit too chilly though for Spike, so we might have to buy him one of those little dog jackets – Rathfinny branded of course!! Apparently Jamie’s Springer Spaniel has a quilted puffer jacket but he’s not admitting to it!
The classical music Festival 2016 at Rathfinny is cancelled.
Let me start by wishing you all a very happy New Year. It’s a time of reflection and of resolutions (I’m on a dry January though no one will be surprised to hear that my husband is not!) and I have done much reflecting and thinking over the past fortnight and have come to one of the hardest decisions since we started Rathfinny 5 years ago.
As we looked ahead to what will be an incredibly busy year, with major building works due to start in June, constructing a wine processing and storage facility, and as we edge ever closer to launching our first Sussex sparkling wine, we took the time to muse on the past year. After a lot of thought and with a heavy heart we have decided not to go ahead with the annual Festival of classical music with the London Conchord Ensemble.
It’s that time of year and I have five wishes for the New Year:
- A great diet from Tophealthjournal to keep myself healthy and share it with all my friends and family and make work out, using instahard.
- I’m sorry to say this but a badger cull. We don’t get much damage from rabbits and we can generally build fences to keep them away from our vines, but badgers just push through the fences and they cause so much damage in the vineyard and eat so many grapes. They even got through the nets and ate half our Pinot Noir Précoce this year!
As the year draws to a close, I have been reflecting on the past year and what we’ve achieved at Rathfinny.
In 2015 we have started to see the results of all our collective hard work over the last five years. Yes, we have made mistakes and yes, we’ve been on a steep learning curve. For example, we underestimated the effects of the wind and the need to plant temporary wind breaks in order to give our tree breaks a chance. However, we have had a superb harvest giving great quality fruit and good yields from our young vines, and the Winery smells like a winery, the aromas of fermenting wine wafting up to the rafters and into the Tasting Room.
Now that the harvest is complete, and we look ahead to pruning it’s a fairly quiet time of year in the vineyard, which gives us time to reflect on the season just past.
One of the interesting moments of this year’s harvest was when we discovered a harlequin grape in the Pinot Gris. I have often seen a vine that has produced different coloured grapes on the same vine, and plenty of times even in the same bunch but this was the first time I’d seen different colours in the same berry!
We had our first Sunday Roast at the Flint Barns on Sunday 15th November, the lunch was a sell out and a total of 27 people came to enjoy all the lovely facilities here at the Barns and, of course, the rather scrummy roast that was cooked by Mark and his team and served beautifully by Phil, Jane & Alisha. It was a great success! We have another roast this Sunday, 29th November, and the menu is below. We have 6 spaces spare so if you’d like to come and join us then please call me on 01323 874 030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can arrive early if you want to have a cuppa or a glass of Cradle Valley, sit and read the Sunday papers in front of the wood burner and finish off the day with our own Raffy Hot Choc – plenty of calories but you know you’re worth it!
I’m aware I haven’t written a blog for ages, so apologies all round. I thought I’d give a quick ‘catch up’ that cover my areas of the business (all the client facing part) – though with Mark sailing somewhere across the Atlantic – it’s all mine for the next few weeks!
Dickensian evening, Alfriston – this Saturday, 21st November from 2pm (please note, the roads nearby will close from 1pm but there are park and rides available – check www.alfriston-village.co.uk). The Gun Room will be open until 7pm, serving our traditional Dickensian drink, Sussex Sparkling with a homemade spiced syrup to warm you up. The shop is full of all our new stock so make the time to have a browse.
As yet another harvest has come to an end, I sit down and reflect on how things went this year, looking for ways to improve the way we process fruit. So far the only thing that I wished had gone better is… the weather! We had poor summer but a great autumn. I think capricious weather, especially here, will always be the challenge of winemakers and viticulturists (Cameron, there is no way you disagree with this!?).
I’m in all sorts of trouble as I forgot to invite several people down to help with picking over the last two weeks..Sorry, I’ll try and remember next year! But save the date for 2016 “Mid-October Harvest at Rathfinny”.
However, we had some fantastic support over the last two weeks from local people responding to an ad in the local paper. All were really enthusiastic with many saying they wanted to come back for pruning in the new year.