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 email@example.com. 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.
Just a quick blog this time, as we’re right in the middle of harvest and everything is looking good so far.
Tonnages are up on predictions, and we have a fabulous crew of pickers who are all local and from all walks of life. Special thanks to them they’ve been doing a great job, with many expressing an interest in coming back in future years for pruning and further work over next summer. Its great to have such a happy English speaking crew who despite the miles they put in each day always have a smile on their faces.
I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
Harvest is just around the corner for Rathfinny Wine Estate and the tension is mounting!
While Jonathan Médard prepares and Cameron nurtures, other diverse things are happening on the Estate. Last month saw the launch of the South Downs Food and Drink Portal (www.southdownsfood.org) at our Winery. The portal is an interactive website where you can search for local food and drink providers, businesses and places to visit. Rathfinny sources as much of its food and drink from local providers as we can and it was great to meet so many more at this event, make new connections and of course try their produce (a number of times, just to make sure!)
Harvest at Rathfinny isn’t far away now and there is a buzz of excitement going on around the Estate. I hope to get out in the vines to give a hand with this year’s harvest at some stage. There’s also a buzz going on at the Flint Barns, last weekend was our busiest in the café with over 80 people coming to enjoy the Rathfinny Trail, great food, stunning views, a chilled bottle of our Cradle Valley wine and of course our friendly staff. The cafe will still be open until Sunday 1st November every Friday, Saturday & Sunday 10am to 4pm – why not pop over and pay us a visit. We are also going to be open every day during the half term week 26th Oct – 30th Oct.
We have to be honest it wasn’t the best of summers. It started off well and I read that average annual global temperatures are set to hit a high this year. August was the hottest on record, but as you’ll read from the picture on this link, whilst Europe was bathed in record temperatures during August, the UK was slightly cooler than average. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/extremes/201508.gif
Farmers love to moan about the weather but this year’s summer was a bit damp and cold. We are now about 2 weeks behind last year and we don’t anticipate harvesting our classic varieties (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier) until late October. We have some great fruit but it needs a few more weeks to ripen.
This year vs last year..