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.
This season has got off to a flying start!
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.
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.
With less than two days to go until we launch our first Sussex Sparkling wines to the trade at Somerset House on Tuesday 24th April, I thought I’d reflect on what has been a very long, often busy, but rewarding eight years. I’ll try and keep it brief!
When Sarah encouraged me to study a degree in Wine Production at Plumpton College in 2010, I didn’t expect that we’d be here launching a sparkling wine in 2018. Firstly, we were lucky that Rathfinny Farm came up for sale. It was probably about a year or two earlier than hoped for, as I had only just started my wine making degree course! However, as soon as I saw the