We’ve had a lovely two week ‘pop-up’ at the incredible Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, part of the Firmdale Hotels group and what a treat it was for all involved. Exclusive tickets to their gorgeous roof top garden saw a real mix of people coming to taste what Rathfinny had to offer. There was our Blanc de Blancs and Rosé Sussex Sparkling and Cradle Valley wine alongside cocktails, developed by Eoin Kenny, Firmdale’s Group Mixologist, using our
Seven Sisters Gin with an emphasis on using English and Sussex ingredients.
As part of my job I spend a lot of time collecting, analysing and interpreting data from the vineyard with the aim of building a clear representation of the Estate each season and comparatively, year on year. I spoke briefly in my previous blog about the future of data driven decision making especially on a site as big as ours, so after visiting Fruit Focus at NIAB EMR where this was discussed, I thought some more about the importance of technology and how we can use it to improve our practices. Part of this encompasses the evolution of data analytics in the vineyard. Mainly, machine learning, satellite image processing and wireless sensor networks. Together these tools can help make strategic decisions which work to improve efficiency and ultimately, the consumer experience.
As the hot weather continues and the sun shines brightly over the Estate, it’s sometimes hard to remember we are in England. I have to keep reminding myself to appreciate the long, summer days as it’s so easy to get used to them and when the weather does eventually break, we will wonder how we could have ever complained of being hot.
As we continue to bask in this sunny weather and our vines go from strength to strength the rest of the Estate looks a little parched in places and this means that the wildflowers are out in force (nature moves in mysterious ways). So for my blog I thought I would provide a few images of some key species and attempt not to mention gin, sparkling wine or still white wine at all! So here goes.
Two weeks ago I went to Royal Ascot. Having never been before I was intrigued to see this famous English spectacle first hand. I have to say that it has to be the biggest, poshest, piss-up ever organised. Very few people seem to be remotely interested in the horses, the food is at best mediocre but the wine is fantastic and it flows more freely than I’ve ever seen anywhere else in the world!
Last week we agreed the blends for our 2017 wines and we made a little video about the process that you can see here.
Blending is all about tasting the wines that we make in a particular year and working out what will work best with other wines to make the various blends we want to bottle – put it this way there’s a lot of swirling and spitting involved! We are looking to make four blends with our 2017 wines – A Rosé, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and a Classic Blend from fifteen different tanks of wine and several barrels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In the words of Nina Simone, “It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new life for me, yeah, and I’m feeling good”. I don’t know Nina’s reasons for being so upbeat, but I do know ours. Having officially released our sparkling wines into the market on the 1st June, and with our Hong Kong launch on the horizon, to say we’re excited here at Rathfinny would be an understatement.
The vineyard growth is at least a couple of weeks ahead of what would be considered normal, thanks mainly to well above average temperatures in Spring and in particular May.
Average temperatures for May, as well as April, were well above mean long-term average temperatures for most of the country, even Scotland! This is starting to become a bit of a trend in recent years (long may it continue) and is only positive for grape growing. Also with good rainfall in late winter/early spring the moisture content of the soil has been ideal to get things off to a good start.
I confess I missed a blog a few weeks ago. There was just too much going on and sometimes you have to say I just can’t do that. It was one of those times.
This year has been full on starting with Millie and me going to France to sort out our foils, then finalising the design of our labels, getting them printed, re-doing and up-dating all our assets – everything from signatures, letterheads, the website – organising our trade launch, preparing for the visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne to open our new buildings and in all of this, our son Brook got married both in Hackney and here at Rathfinny. As I said, it’s been very busy.
So it was a huge treat to be invited by The Savoy, along with all our staff, to their Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea where our Rathfinny Sussex Sparkling is being served. Here I am with the Gun Room team. I think it’s true to say that we all had to keep pinching ourselves to actually be drinking our wine in this world renowned hotel. It was also an opportunity to say good-bye and thank you to Alison Cowley, who has managed our Gun Room so exceptionally well. We will miss her.
It’s not everyday that royalty drops into Rathfinny, but this week Her Royal Highness Princess Anne came to officially open our new winery buildings: The ‘Cellar’, which will store all our wine whilst it matures in the bottle ‘on-lees’ and the ‘Bottling’ centre that will
With the success of our launch at the end of April, the pressure is well and truly on to carry on producing the best grapes for our Sussex Sparkling. As part of the U.K wine industry, we find ourselves at a very fortunate standpoint in comparison to some of our European counterparts in the face of climate change. Even though research points to more unpredictable weather conditions in the U.K, we are also eagerly anticipating higher temperatures and less rain during the growing season (emphasis on eagerly) whilst southern Europe is facing short-term realities of severe drought conditions, extreme heat and ultimately, the inability to grow or produce certain varieties and wine styles. But what is phenology and what does it have to do with this?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently you’ll be aware that we’ve finally launched our Sparkling wines last week. I won’t dwell on this but so far both the trade and media have received them very well.
Now that that necessary distraction is out of the way we can get back to the business of wine-growing. Last Friday we started planting more vineyard, another 13ha.