Rathfinny Wine Estate

Blending Trials 2020

We have been busy at the Winery over the last few weeks blending base wines from the 2019 harvest. Although it was a difficult year in terms of weather (summer, where were you?), we are very pleased with the quality of the wines produced.

When creating blends, we often use the analogy of the painter, the canvas, the tubes of paint and the palette. It is true to some extent: we have a choice of many different varieties, clones and tanks to play with. But unlike the painter who will mix blue and yellow and always create a green colour, blending wines can prove a bit unpredictable.

Read Jonathan's Article

Apple Tarte Tatin Recipe

Ingredients (serves 2)

150g caster sugar.

40ml water.

50g unsalted butter.

4 to 5 Braeburn apples.

Puff pastry (all butter or best quality you can find).



Peel 4 to 5 medium size apples, core and halve from top to bottom. We use braeburn apples but you can mix it up. (This can be done the day before as it will dry the skin which helps caramelise them. It’s fine if they turn slightly brown as this is going to happen anyway).

In a 6-inch saucepan or heavy frying pan combine the water and sugar and set over a medium heat.

Without stirring, let the sugar caramelise but watch it carefully as you want it to slightly smoke and bring a little bitterness to the caramel. You want a balance that is not too sweet but definitely not burnt!

Take it off the heat and add the butter straight away which will cool it down slightly.

Place the apple halves around the edge of the pan standing up, tucked tightly and then fill the middle with any remaining so it all holds nicely.

Caramelise the apples in the pan on a medium/low heat for five minutes then place the pan on a wire rack and chill.

Roll out the puff pastry into an 8 inch circle, roughly 4mm thick.

Place the pastry over the apples and crimp the edges as neatly or rustically as you like, tucking them in around the edges of the apple inside the pan.

Put a small cross in the middle of the pastry to release any steam.

You can now bake the tart at 180° for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is nice and golden on top.

Once it has baked, let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Place a plate over the pan and flip out the tart – being careful not to spill any of the hot caramel!

We served this with Tonka bean ice cream in the Tasting Room restaurant but it works well with almost anything similar. Serve with a glass of our Sussex Sparkling Rosé Brut.


Our Head Chef of the Tasting Room Restaurant – Chris Bailey

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Caramelised Onion Soup Recipe

Recipe serves 8 and is suitable for vegetarians. Gluten-free option


2 tablespoons of extra virgin rapeseed oil.

2kg of white onion, thinly sliced.

4 garlic cloves, grated.

250ml Cradle Valley white wine.

2.5l good quality vegetable stock.

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds.

1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated.

4-8 slices French bread (depending on size), toasted.

280g Olde Sussex Cheddar, finely grated.


Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add 2kg of thinly sliced onions with a pinch of sea salt and the cumin seeds and fry on a low heat with the lid on for approximately 1 hour approx until soft, stirring frequently.

The onions should be really golden, full of flavour and soft when pinched between your fingers. Take care towards the end to ensure that they don’t burn.

Add the 4 grated garlic cloves, Dijon mustard, nutmeg and Cradle Valley wine and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Increase the heat and keep stirring as you gradually add the vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 15-20 mins.

Toast 4-8 slices of French bread (or any bread of your choice). Ladle the soup into heatproof bowls. Put a slice or two of toast on top of the bowls of soup, and pile on 140g finely grated Olde Sussex Cheddar. Grill until melted. Alternatively, you can complete the toasts under the grill, then serve them on top.

Enjoy with a glass of our Cradle Valley Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris wine.

Our Flint Barns chefs – Mark & Marcin

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Vineyard Crew Spotlight: Julie Kells

At Rathfinny, we aim to support a skilled and local workforce which has been at the heart of our mission since Mark and Sarah Driver established the Estate in 2010. In our 10-year anniversary, we will be shining a light on some of our hard working casual staff who have found themselves drawn to our Vineyard for many different reasons and take a hands on approach to the essential jobs required to cultivate our vines. After all, you cannot make excellent wine from poor quality grapes.

Rathfinny Crew: Julie Kells

Meet Julie. Julie started working for Rathfinny during the 2019 harvest and loved the work so much she decided to continue working over winter during the vital pruning season. After serving as a member of cabin crew for 40 years, Julie was attracted to working in a stunning open landscape and fresh air. Despite some challenging weather conditions this year, Julie enjoys the diversity of the team, camaraderie and motivational spirit that propels them forward.

As a casual member of staff, the flexible hours suit Julie as she can choose to work three days a week which fits around her voluntary job at the local food bank and looking after her grandchildren.

Thank you for your work Julie and for being such as wonderful member of the Rathfinny community!

Read Viv's Article

Large Hadron Collider or Alcohol?

On 21st January this year I found myself all suited and booted siting in the hallowed vaulted ceiling of the Guildhall London.  Joe Fattorini, from the Wine Show, was the guest speaker to an audience comprising of students from 18 different countries.  His proclamation to the hushed room?  “There are more people that know how to work the Large Hadron Collider than have the WSET Diploma – you’ve joined wines elite.”

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Follow the Flow

When we think of sustainability, it can mean many different things to different people. Environmental, socio-economic, financial. They all have their place but what is really important to a vineyard is the sustainability of the vines and their long-term future.

Pruning can make a huge difference to the longevity of a vine’s life and its architecture: its structure, branching and canopy. A few wrong cuts over time and the vine won’t be in a good way, the reason is that every cut will cause dieback, where the vine heals itself. Learning to prune is not a simple process, and even though most people will pick up the basics in a few hours it takes a lifetime to master.

Read Cam's Article

Happy New Year!

It’s the start of a new decade and I’ve been reflecting about our journey that started almost 10 years ago – it’s hard to believe. If I’m very honest, last year was very hard work.  Not that the earlier years weren’t, but it was hard in a different way.  From 2010-2018 we were so focused on just doing what had to be done.  Vines to be ordered, early staff to be recruited, buildings to be renovated and a winery to be designed and built.  The vines arrived and then we needed to put in the trellising and wires, deal with planning issues, start to design and plan the Flint Barns, work out a waste water plant all alongside developing a brand, stationery, cards and a logo.  More staff were recruited and suddenly we had an accounts team and a growing back office.

Read Sarah's Article

2019 Harvest- Over!

2019 has been one of those years where it all looked like everything was going to be great and easy and then the weather had other ideas right at the last minute.
The season was generally ok, nothing like 2018 but a fairly good one for the UK with above average temperatures for most of the year. Then it all suddenly turned in September, bringing us the first wet and at times challenging harvest in the history of Rathfinny.

Read Cam's Article

Harvest 2019

Harvest at Rathfinny is expected to start next week, on or about 9th October.  So far, we have had over 400 people sign up directly via our website and have over 20 people booked to stay on-site at the Flint Barns, from as far afield as Abu Dhabi and Alberta, Canada.

As Cameron said recently “We must be doing something right!”.  I believe we’re treating people well, with reasonable

Read Mark's Article

A different take on sustainability

 We often talk about sustainability here at Rathfinny, and that takes many forms from repurposing our menu’s in the restaurant for scrap paper to the introduction of paper rather than plastic spray guards around the young vines. One thing we haven’t really touched on is bird control.

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Going up North

On Friday 21st June, I travelled out of my jurisdiction up to the wonderful city of Leeds.

Rathfinny were invited to show our recently launched 2015 Blanc de Noirs and our 2016 Rosé sparkling wines by Harvey Nichols.  Not an invite to turn down.  It was with much excitement that I boarded the choo choo as I knew this was a great opportunity to show case our current wines to a new audience.

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New tanks arriving

It’s been another busy week at Rathfinny. We took delivery of three new 58,000-litre blending tanks (each double the size of a petrol tanker), a further four new fermentation tanks, and two bottling tanks, ready for harvest this year and bottling next month.

They look rather nice now, in situ, but it was a slight shock when they arrived and we hoped that we’d measured the width of the entrance correctly! Jonathan Médard our winemaker was sweating a little more than the others, but they just squeezed in with an inch (2.5cms) to spare on either side… A perfectly designed winery. Well done to all concerned.

Read Mark's Article