Rathfinny Wine Estate

The great storm of 2013

I remember the storm of 1987 very well and I must admit I slept through it. We were living in Brighton, well Hove actually. Waking late as my alarm clock didn’t work because we had lost power in the night, I was a little surprised to see so many trees down across Brighton as I tried to drive to work in Tonbridge. The A27 was completely closed by fallen trees, so I headed back home and spent the day reviewing the carnage along the sea front in Hove and Brighton.

Our Flint Barns were also a casualty of the same 87 storm. The roof was lost and never replaced and so they fell in to disrepair. Until now.

glulams at FB

The roof is being replaced, walls rebuilt and repointed and an extension added to provide a  kitchen, dining room, laundry and wash rooms for our seasonal workers’ accommodation. It’s beginning to take shape as you can see from the photo above. The white wooden glulam beams you can see will form the frame for the roof which sits above, housing solar panels to the south and roof lights to the north.

New FB from NW

This week we had practical completion of the Winery and we have the keys!! We also completed the Tasting Room at the Winery.

tasting room

This has primarily been designed as a trade tasting room. However, early next year we hope to start offering organised tours of the Vineyard and Winery. We will collect people from The Gun Room in Alfriston in a big Rathfinny van and provide a simple ‘wine makers’ lunch or afternoon tea in the Tasting Room. Watch out for the ‘Visit Us’ tab which will soon appear on our website.

Bund Landscaping

So whilst the vineyard crew have been finishing off the landscaping and cleaning up the debris blown around the vineyard by the storm, the ladies (and Martin, the designer of our Winery) are busy cooking in the Great Rathfinny Bake Off #GRBO. Someone has cleverly worked the ladies up into a frenzy of baking so the boys get freshly cooked cakes at their morning break! The final show stoppers have to be presented before Friday!! Well done Giles….

That’s all for now….

Mark Driver

Read Mark's Article

Four Seasons in One Day

I was going to report on the seasonal changes on the Estate as the autumnal colours develop and leaves fall and the majority of our feathered friends have left for sunnier climes.

To tell the truth, I’m not totally sure which season we are in!  I know spring was about 3 weeks late because I waited patiently for the blackthorn and hawthorn blossom.  Then today I started in full waterproofs and wellies as if it was a monsoon, and when I joined the ‘elite squad’ down at the Gun Room, to view the build progress and discuss oak flooring, the bright sun was out punched by the gale force wind.  It’s this same wind which Cameron is planning to tame to allow our vines and shelter belt trees some respite.  I’m investigating the more micro climatic properties of using inter row planting of species such as phacelia and clover.  The phacelia could provide some shelter and combined with the clover would support a plethora of predatory insects to aid our vines.  I just need to clarify how to manage/control the phacelia in the future.

Back to today and it was tipped off in our resplendent Winery Tasting Room which was draped in full summer sun!  Good ol’British weather.

Since my last blog, my time has been spent landscaping around our rather majestic looking Winery.  All of this work has been ably supported by the rest of the vineyard team.  I say ‘supported’ in the loosest sense as I spent my days bouncing around on the dumper truck under the watchful eye of Rick (“the other Kiwi”) as he is our resident Chelsea Flower Show medallist.  Every vineyard should have one!

It has warmed my cockles to see the native plants being used in the landscaping such as holly, beech, white beam and my personal favourite the spindle tree.

spindle

Its outstanding fruit in pink and orange is totally juxtaposed with its angular edged bark.  To me, spindle is a vastly underrated element of our countryside.  I can’t wait to see it flourish.

The tree gets it name from its use as a spindle for spinning wool and I won’t dwell on its other use as a laxative.  I’ve personally used it in basic bushcraft as a very useful and straight skewer for cooking with.

Which brings me to the BBC’s announcement of this year’s winner of the Great British Bake Off.  The jury is still out here at Rathfinny for our own Estate award.  Nikki launched a full on assault at the title with a stupendous chocolate cake last week.  This full throttle fat inducing cake puts her in the lead. The only flaw in her composition was its size.  Far, far too small for my liking.

cake

(image taken after only 3.2mins of round 1)

We patiently await the next entrant to the Bake Off….

Read Richard's Article

VITeff 2013

I’ve just come back from Epernay where the biennial VITeff trade show was taking place. All the usual suspects were there: manufacturers of tanks, presses, pumps, packaging/labelling, and bottling lines, in addition to vineyard equipment and vine growers, and more.

Wednesday being the “Winemakers Technical Day”, I attended a conference on the filtration of white wines and, more specifically, of Champagne wines. The goal of filtration is to obtain a clear, sediment free and microbiologically stable wine.

Wines do not have to be filtered – it depends on the kind of wine produced. For example, in the case of either a red or white still wine barrel aged for 18-24 months, filtration may not be necessary before bottling: solids and yeast/bacteria might have all settled sufficiently, resulting in a clear wine that can be bottled as is. As an alternative, or in addition to filtering, winemakers can also use fining agents to help clear the wine of undesirable components.

With regards to sparkling wines, the base wine first goes through a primary fermentation, possibly a malolactic “fermentation”, and cold stabilisation. These processes generate a lot of solids including yeast, bacteria, and crystals that need to be removed by filtration prior to tirage (when a base wine is inoculated and bottled for secondary fermentation).

You might wonder: what happens to the solids after the second fermentation in the bottle? During tirage, we include adjuvants that help particles to settle and aggregate in the bottle, making riddling and elimination of the sediments by disgorging easy.

Deciding on the filtration method and medium is not always easy, since not only each vintage but also each “batch” of wine are different. From experience, one learns when and how to filter, bearing in mind that bench trials and experimentation help pinpoint the final setup.

Each method of filtration has its pros and cons, and methods might need to be combined in order for the winemaker to get the expected result. I will not go into detailed descriptions today, but here is a (short) list of some of these filtering media: D.E. (diatomaceous earth), cellulose, polymeric membranes, ceramic…

At the VITeff conference, one manufacturer unveiled a new high-performance cartridge filter, adding to the list of options available to winemakers.

I was also able to view this Pierre Guérin egg-shaped tank which is the only one of its kind for the moment (some exist in concrete or oak, but not in stainless steel like this one).

IMG_1432

It is a bit pricey, but the buzz a statement cellar piece like this can generate amongst the winemaking community is priceless. Plus, maybe it’s cheaper by the dozen!

Jonathan Médard – Winemaker

Read Jonathan's Article

The Great Rathfinny Bake Off

It has been said in the office that when Mark and I are working at ‘full steam,’ it takes everyone three days to recover.  I thought about this at some length this week and think I have worked out why that is.  We are all dealing with such a variety of issues and that, in itself, is tiring.

For example, I now know more than I ever wanted to about fire standards, PSV operator licences, the strength of bunk beds, modern lighting regulations and employment contracts to say nothing of trade marks around the world.  I have been to design fairs showcasing English products, tested soaps for the Flint Barns, chosen pepper pots for the Tasting Room, learnt about the million ways you can make coffee, chosen floorboards, designed a bar, learnt about branding, PR and marketing and on it goes!  Life is never boring and it is certainly full, but it wasn’t quite what I imagined when my husband wistfully said one balmy evening – “shall we start a vineyard?”

And then to top it all, we now have the Great Rathfinny Bake Off.  It started with a flippant remark by one of the vineyard team.

“It would be nice to have a bit of cake with our morning coffee… I hear Sarah makes a good lemon drizzle.”  It has been reported that Nikki (Cameron’s wife) was heard to retort, “that’s because she’s been doing it for 50 years!” You can guess where this is going.  Suddenly (and I’m talking the very next day) she produces a Victoria sponge, complete with cream and home-made jam (behind my back!)

photo 2

Then Liz, who at one stage taught home economics (cooking to you and me) in New Zealand, chimes in with a claim that she makes the best scones in Western Europe and that she won a ‘highly commended’ medal from some local fete in some part of Christchurch, NZ.  The next thing I know, she has snuck down to the vineyard with gingerbread and started selling cakes to the guys building the winery to raise money for Macmillan nurses!

photo copy 2

I had decided to rise above the fray, keep the mystery of the lemon drizzle a mystery and leave it at that.  However Mark decided to take an experimental ginger cake (I blame the recipe) down to the cabin on Monday.  Let us just say Cameron took great pleasure in informing me 3 days later, there was still some left!!

Has no one heard that Christmas bonuses are under review as I write??

PS  Felix did say thanks so I guess he’s safe!

Sarah Driver – The Boss

Read Mark's Article

Rollercoaster Ride

Our progress to enhance the landscape and wildlife on the Estate has really gathered pace over the summer.  I was going to highlight our plans for next year’s provision for more pollen and nectar rich wild flower planting or the technicalities of planting over 100 mature trees to landscape the winery.

Then I took this image of a levitating kidney-spot ladybird and following on from Cameron’s blog, I thought I would extoll the virtues of our wild flower areas being a haven for predatory insects which will assist us in controlling vineyard ‘pests’.

ladybird

However, my subject matter changed again as the other weekend I was present for the world’s finest rollercoaster ride.

On the 15th September my ride commenced from the vertiginous 13th floor of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospital.  I was a passenger and my wife had a special reserved seat.  After an incredible undulating journey with apprehension, excitement, tears and fears – the finale was quite incredible!

My wife (and passenger me) are now the proud parents to spontaneous triplets to join our 6 year old daughter Romilly – instant large family achieved.  Edward took the finishing tape at 11.43am weighing in at 4lb 15, closely followed by Miles (3lb 4) and Cordelia (4lb 6).

babes1

Edward is a particular boy’s name we chose, Miles is Latin for soldier as he had to be a little fighter during his time ‘inside’ and Cordelia was King Lear’s favourite and youngest daughter.

My wife and I will forever remember the rollercoaster for various reasons and she has recovered amazingly well from the journey.  She is the proverbial rock.  All 3 small dudes are now in the incredible care of the Trevor Mann Baby Unit.  The level of care is indescribable.  All of the staff should wear halos.  I am completely in awe of the work they undertake to look after all the “little people”.

So deep breaths.  Shoulders back.  Work to be done on the vineyard and surrounding Estate.

What a ride though.

Richard James – Landscape and Environmental Officer

Read Richard's Article

Completion of the winery in sight

We are at that stage in the building program when everyone is blaming everyone else for the delays, and our winery building is still not finished. It’s very frustrating as we had hoped to be in by now and testing all the new equipment, instead of which we are still waiting for various areas to be completed.

Winery nearly complete

One of the main factors being blamed for the delay is the fact that the new power supply was only switched on last Monday. I didn’t know how complicated and disjointed our power network is in the UK. The new power cable into the sub-station behind the winery has been in for months but we then needed a meter, but before you have a meter you need something else, which has to be done by someone who is not connected to the meter provider. Round and round you go and eventually when everyone returns from summer holidays, they then try and work through the backlog and power gets turned, on six weeks late.

The other factor being blamed is the tradition of European factories closing down in August and it would appear that the UK has become European; even our local cement company closed down for three weeks in August and we are still waiting for a ceiling, which was ordered in July, to be delivered for our tasting room.

winery landscaping

In the meantime the landscaping is continuing and we have planted nearly a hundred trees on the bank in front of the winery and now the shrubs are being planted.

Whilst we wait for the winery building to be completed the steel frame in the Flint Barns, to be used for seasonal workers accommodation, is going up and the structure is starting to take shape.

steel in FB

Oh, and the vineyard team are still putting in wires and trellising posts and spreading compost under our young vines. It’s all go….

composting

I hope it warms up as it feels like winter has arrived!

Mark Driver

Read Mark's Article

The French press

There was great excitement at Rathfinny last week when our gleaming new French grape press arrived.

Our new grape press, manufactured by Coquard, near Reims, France, in the Champagne region, required a specialised lifting system to lift it into place at the eastern  entrance of the winery.

IMG_4992

Note the customised red colour – it should be bright enough to keep the press operator awake even late at night!

There are 2 main types of presses, horizontal and vertical, but the Coquard breaks the mould:

– A vertical press, as traditionally used in Champagne, is a circular structure with a vertical axle. It gets filled with grapes and a plate moves down and compresses the mass, allowing juice to flow out.

VerticalpressOnce grapes have been squeezed and juice has been extracted, the mass becomes a “gâteau” (cake), quite compact and hard to keep pressing. In order to extract some more juice the press releases the pressure, and using forks, the press operator has to turn up that cake, to uncompact the mass and rearrange it so it can be pressed again.
This action is called, in Champagne, “la retrousse”.

– A horizontal press is a metallic cage rotating on a horizontal axle.
Nowadays, lots of presses use a technology combining compressed air and a membrane (some say a bladder).
horizontal-press

The membrane inflates, creating pressure and squeezing juice out of the berries.
The cycles consist of alternating inflation and deflation. Sometimes, while the membrane is deflated, the cage rotates a few times, rearranging the mass of grapes within the cage, facilitating further cycles of pressing. This rearrangement or “turn up” mimics the “retrousse”.

The Coquard press is hydraulic. Its principle is that, with 2 plates, one immobile and one moved by a piston, it replicates the traditional vertical Champagne press. But having both these inclined, when the moving plate releases the pressure, and creates space, the cake is inclined and its weigh makes it fall, creating a natural “retrousse” by gravity.

The press sit 6 meters over our heads in the cellar, which will allow juice transfer by gravity, rather that having to use a pump – it is considered a more gentle process.

Jonathan Médard – Winemaker

Read Jonathan's Article

Bad hare day… a thing of the past.

Being a photographer I tend to work in images rather than words however, something happened this week which has inspired me to add a few words to accompany some of my images. After 18 months of watching and waiting I have finally managed to photograph one of the more shy and elusive creatures who inhabit Cradle Valley at Rathfinny Estate, The Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)

Hare 1

When I discovered that hares were living on the Rathfinny estate I was naturally enthusiastic about this photographic opportunity and felt the need to photograph them quickly before the vineyard developed, became to busy and perhaps scared them away .   However,  I was later intrigued to discover the  fact that hares are often associated with vineyards across the world to the extent that some vineyards and wines are named after them; these are just a few I discovered after a quick search:

  • Dancing Hare Vineyard, Napa Valley USA ( produces a bottle of red called Mad Hatter)
  • Running Hare Vineyard, Maryland USA (which produces a Jack Rabbit red and a Jack Rabbit white)
  • The Leaping Hare Vineyard Restaurant in Suffolk
  • Wild Hare Vineyard, Kansas

Clearly hares were enjoying life at Rathfinny long before the first vine was planted but interestingly, and despite the fact that hares are on the decline in the UK, their numbers appear to be increasing at Rathfinny.  Maybe they like the shade and the protection against predators that the vines offer and perhaps they just have a fondness for foraging the wild downland grasses that grow on the estate.  Whatever the reason, they appear to be respectful of the vines and are living in harmony with the vineyard.  The Leverets (young hares) even appear to enjoy playing games of dodge with the tractors as they drive up and down the vines.

Hare 2

For those of you who have never seen a hare and are wondering what the difference is between a hare and a rabbit here are a few hare facts:

  • Hares are significantly larger than rabbits, their ears are longer with black tips
  • Due to the length of their back legs their gait can be likened to that of a wallaby or kangaroo – almost a lollop in comparison to the rabbits dainty hopping. This almost clumsy walk/hop gives way to a graceful and spectacular run. And at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour hares are the fastest mammals in the UK.
  • Hares do not give birth to their young below ground in a burrow but above ground in a ‘form’, which is a shallow depression in the grass.
  • Unlike the rabbit, hares are born with their eyes open and covered in hair.
  • Generally nocturnal and shy in nature hares change their behaviour in spring where they can be seen chasing each other and standing on their back legs striking each other with their paws (boxing) which is generally the female fighting off the males unwanted attention. It is this spring frenzy or mating dance which has lead to the English idiom “Mad as a March Hare”.

Capturing an image of this elusive creature soon became a bit of a personal mission for me.  Hours of fruitless waiting and watching has lead to the phrase ‘bad hair day’ taking on a whole new meaning in our household. On one occasion I had been lying still watching in vain for hours, when I decided to call it a day and stood up to go.  A hare sprung and ran from less than 10 feet away from me!  It must have been there all the time.  When feeling threatened, hares will flatten themselves to the earth to avoid being to noticed –  it works!  He was too fast and I too slow, all I managed to capture was a blurry back leg.

Hare 3

My mission is far from over,  there has been a sighting of some leverets playing amongst the vines at present and  I hope to capture some images of the hares boxing in the spring, so keep a look out on the Gallery.

Viv Blakey – Resident Photographer at Rathfinny Wine Estate

Read Mark's Article

Further lessons….

As Mark’s latest blog mentioned, things are taking longer to develop than we first anticipated and some realities of farming are starting to hit home.

However, I thought that rather than dwell on the frustrations and obstacles we are facing, I thought I’d focus on the positives of our site and choices we have made.

IMG_2891

Yes, we are exposed, and a windy site. This is great for disease control! It means that to control botrytis, powdery and downy mildew and other nasty diseases that plague vineyards in the UK and worldwide we rarely have to spray fungicides. Due to plenty of air movement within the vineyard we have the luxury of less disease risk than most sites.

We have very little topsoil, in some places as little as 20cm before we hit the chalk. This is great for vines; worldwide vineyards are planted on some of the poorest soils, which cause a lack of vigour, which in turn is great for fine wine. All of the finest wines are grown on soil that is considered less than ideal for other crops. Lack of vigour in the vines causes them to gentle stress, helping them to produce superior fruit.

IMG_2917

We have used Fercal rootstock, this has the highest tolerance to chalk soils of all the types of rootstock available. It is slow to get established but has a deep rooting system, which means it will get its “feet” down into the chalk. It also ripens quicker than other options, which enables us to produce better quality wines with less pressure at harvest time.

We have great biodiversity, something Richard is far more capable of explaining than I am. What it does mean is that we plenty of natural predatory insects that are able to control the populations of unwanted species without the need to intervene chemically. Once again reducing our need to resort to spraying to control these pests with a termite control. The main thing is we don’t have beasties like the one below which can plague some vineyards overseas.

Eumorpha

The photo is from Gayle Shulte in the US who discovered this in their vineyard, it is the caterpillar of the Pandorus sphinx moth and I can only imagine what a caterpillar this size could eat in a day!

Cameron Roucher – Vineyard Manager

 

Read Cam's Article

Lessons learnt…

It is almost three years since we bought Rathfinny.

We were on a sailing holiday in Menorca when I received a call from a land agent at Strutt and Parker. “Mr Driver, I think I’ve found the perfect site for your vineyard!”.

vine growth

So three years on what have we learnt?

  • Planting vines is easy. You order and purchase your vines, eighteen months ahead of time from a nursery and hire the help of a friendly German who will machine plant them with GPS accuracy.
  • All consultants seem to have different opinions on your soil, what vines to plant – root stocks and clonal varieties, vine spacing, winery design and what trees to plant for windbreaks.
  • There are a plethora of consultants required for every conceivable bat, badger, archeological feature and historical reference, and when they hear that you are planting a vineyard they seem to double to price.
  • Getting planning permission takes a long time and costs a lot of money.
  • Irrigation – do we really need it in England? We thought we did in 2011 then we had the summer of 2012, this year (2013) we needed it.
  • Wind – is the main enemy of vines, more on this later.
  • How to work with my wife. Oh, and my wife is always right!! But I knew that already.
  • Double time and double money! (My lovely wife told me that as well!)
  • People love wine. Everyone, everywhere asks me “how are the vines Mark?” We have over three hundred acres of wheat and barley but no one asks me how are my cereal crops.

However, the main thing I’ve learnt, apart from the fact that my wife is always right, is that wind is the main enemy of vines.

When I studied at Plumpton College we learnt how winds above 10mph stop photosynthesis in vines. Basically, when the wind picks up the stomata, the little holes on the bottom of the leaves that allow gases, CO2, oxygen and water vapour, to enter or leave the leaf, close and so the plant stops transpiration. They close to stop the vine from drying out but this also stops photosynthesis which, if you remember back to your biology lessons, is the means by which the cells in the leaf convert water and CO2 into sugars which, move around the plant, providing energy for the vine and ends up in the grapes. So before we bought Rathfinny I thought long and hard about wind and I looked at historical weather statistics from the Met office. They seemed to be okay, the average wind speed during the summer growing months was 4.5metres per second, which is less that 10mph, and that is the average for the whole site and the lower part of the slope at Rathfinny gives much greater protection from the south-westerly winds and we could plant wind breaks to slow it down further. How wrong could I be?

Well as it turns out the average is the 24 hour average and the winds tend to be stronger during the afternoon, when the vines are meant to be growing! And the trees we planted as windbreaks are taking a lot longer to grow than I had expected. So we have taken the decision to put up more temporary wind-breaks, made of netting, which will hopefully provide the wind protection needed until the trees grow.

Shot Berries

I am still confident of a small crop this year but it will be very small as the vines we planted last year had to cope with the wet cold summer of 2012 and the vines we planted this year are too immature. The good news is that they are putting on enough growth this year to lay down a small cane so hopefully next year we will get a decent crop.

Young vines

Lastly, as an eternal optimist, I have to mention on the positive side at least we rarely get hail storms in East Sussex. A recent hail storm in Champagne wiped out 300 hectares of vines in 2 hours!

Enjoy the rest of the summer….

Mark Driver

Read Mark's Article

Wine tasting ….

I have to confess that with a household full of hungry teenagers this will be a short blog.

We have recently had a wonderful holiday in Italy where we have tried several of the local wines.  Those of you who know me from previous blogs will know that I am no great expert and prefer to sit down at the end of a long day, raise a glass to my lips, take a deep swig and declare it either ‘marvelous’ or ‘horrid.’  Mark’s attempts to get me to pick up different flavours usually falls on deaf ears, and if I’m particularly tired, I have been known to respond rather tartly.

However, as a co-owner of a vineyard, even I can see that I need to have some knowledge.  My last foray in formal wine tasting, (see my blog  https://rathfinnyestate.com/estate-news/?p=668 ) ended up with me declaring tastes of ‘bubblegum’ and even ‘camphor wood chests’ – but I really am going to try.

Here is one particular wine I really liked on our holiday.

Grillo front label

However, try as I might I just could not taste the promised papayas and mangoes referred to on the label.

Grillo back label

Having grown up in Hong Kong living on papayas and mangoes I count myself as something of an expert on them, so even though I was trying to show willing, I found myself ‘arguing’ with the label!  Not a good start.

Anyway, the plan is to take a formal course so for those of you who are already experts, you may ignore my blogs.  For those of you like me, who want to learn more, we can do so together.

This is one we all liked. Mark tells me Vermentino is a grape principally grown in Sardinia. This was lovely….

Vermentino

You can follow my blogs by clicking on the link on the right!!!

Sarah Driver

Read Sarah's Article

Thinking outside the box

Rathfinny will always be more than ‘just’ a vineyard.  As you will have seen from our website the Estate is still part vineyard and part arable farm at the moment.  So what are we doing that is ‘outside’ the usual realms of establishing a vineyard and winery?

In 2012 we joined many farms on the South Downs and signed up to the Higher Level Scheme (HLS) administered by Natural England.  We may be different having a vineyard on the Estate but like many farmers we strive to make a place for nature.

“So what?” I hear you cry.

By committing to HLS we now have a legal obligation to continue to conserve wildlife and enhance it where we can.  It is now that I should go off on a tangent and explain that there is one huge problem with conservation – there is an utter plethora of acronyms!

We are in the HLS and ELS, we have a SSSI and a SNCI and while claiming for SPS to the RPA we are mindful of our HK7 and soon we will be harvesting our OSR.  All of this is done under the umbrella of NPPF and SDNPA while awaiting for changes resulting from CAP reform.*

P1010199

Round leaved fluellen in our arable margins

“So what?” I hear you cry again!

What we are aiming for is to enhance the whole landscape so wildlife can thrive.  So far we have done this by creating strips for arable plants such as the rough poppy and Venus’s looking-glass.  Clearing unwanted scrub for downland flowers to spread like the rounded-headed rampion and devils bit scabious.  And we are providing seed and tussocky grass for farmland birds.  Already the results are being seen – and we have only really just begun.

 poppy

Marmalade hoverflies on poppy

As the vineyard expands our agreement with Natural England becomes more tailored and we will be able to explore more exciting ways to work with nature.  Just last week I had a fantastic meeting with Kew and their Millenium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst.  More on that to follow as we investigate how we can really make a difference.

Perhaps the title above should have read “On my soap box!”

(* deep breath – ELS Entry Level Scheme, SSSI Site of Special Scientific Interest, SNCI Site of Nature Conservation Importance, SPS Single farm Payment Scheme, RPA Rural Payment Agency, HK7 Restoration of species rich grass, OSR Oil Seed Rape, NPPF National Planning Policy Framework, SDNPA South Downs National Park Authority and CAP Common Agricultural Policy – and relax)

by – Richard James – why not follow me on twitter @rathfinnyrich

 

Read Richard's Article

They’re here!

Blog July 1

It’s been a very exciting week here at Rathfinny as our stainless steel tanks were finally delivered and set up.

The French team made everything look easy but it was actually not that simple: both their confidence and efficiency were very impressive.

This one tall tank barely made it in!

Blog July 2

We now have a total of twenty-four tanks, manufactured by Pierre Guérin in Niort, France. This year’s order was for four different capacities: 2400, 4200, 4700, and 13500 liters.

The smaller tanks will be used mostly for settling of the juice after pressing and for fermentation, while the larger tanks will be used for blending the different lots prior to bottling. Here you can see the difference: 2400 liters to the left, 13500 liters to the right:

Blog July 3

The gantries (I call them catwalks!) with the handrails allow access to the chimneys at the top of the tanks. It makes it much safer for us than having to climb on a ladder.

Blog July 6

You can also see the jackets circling around the tanks: glycol runs through these, which can either cool down or warm up the wine, depending on our needs at the moment. Recall, temperature control is critical in a winemaking environment.

At least for the first couple years we will be cold stabilising the wines using this cooling system.

The following picture shows the red fermenters that have an additional access door at the bottom, which we’ll use to evacuate the skins after fermentation.

You can also see the fittings—valves, tasting valves, temperature probes—all customized to our specifications.

Blog July 4

We will keep you posted with upcoming equipment deliveries soon!

Jonathan Médard – Winemaker

Read Jonathan's Article