Nowadays, I can’t take a bite of my meal without snapping it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter first. I’m passive-aggressively outraged if a dining companion tucks into their starter while I’m still trying to find my best lighting. The #nofilters photo of my Eggs Florentine at an Insta-friendly cafe, which only took 110 dry-runs to get right, followed by #blessed and the praying-hands emoji…is the depressing reality of where it’s all come to. Bear with me, it gets more cheerful.
Putting together the invitee list for our big Rathfinny launch in London, now set for April 2018 (available to purchase in June), got me thinking. It struck me that if this is to go off with a #bang, we’d need to invite some influencers along. Only thing is, I had no idea what influencers were, where they lived, what they did, was I one? I then realised, neither of my twitter followers had ever retweeted any of my posts, so I couldn’t be.
Somewhere in the world it must be time for a gin. It would appear that the rise in popularity of micro breweries and artisan beers has made way for a wave of gin.
Those from Sussex may have seen our glorious white gin bottles in local stores, bars or hotels. Named after the iconic Seven Sisters but gin from these parts is not a new phenomenon. The land that folds over the top of the Seven Sisters cliffs between Seaford and Birling Gap is knows as Crowlink. Genuine Crowlink Gin was the drink in the 1800s in London. It was illegally imported gin which could be legally sold over the bar. Many landlords even resorted to placing the word Crowlink on their barrels as pure PR to improve sales, even if it wasn’t the real deal. The smuggling trade was of huge importance in this part of East Sussex and many of the larger houses that adorn the landscape have been ‘funded’ from the illegal import of alcohol. Ours is not illegal but we do hope it continues to be the gin to drink!
Dear Mr Hammond
Is it fair or wise to penalise a British industry that is growing and taking on the world? Would we charge higher taxes on Whisky or Scottish woolens than on Vodka or Chinese jumpers? Would we charge higher VAT on British made luxury cars than lower priced ones?
So why do we charge higher rates of Excise Duty on sparkling wine than still wine in the UK?
It’s a little-known fact that we pay 28% more of Excise Duty per bottle on sparkling wine than on still wine – £2.74 and ‘just’ £2.16 respectively. Plus VAT of 20% …
I say ‘just’ because in the rest of Europe Excise Duty on wine is generally 8-10p per bottle! It’s cheaper to buy most wines, even English
We’ve finished our harvest and it was completely wonderful. Not only did we have a bumper crop, over twice what was harvested last year, but we had so many other things to celebrate. As Mark mentioned in a previous blog we had a super team of local pickers come and join us. Mark was away the first morning of harvest so it fell to me to do a rousing, welcoming speech.
We started harvesting our great crop of wonderful ripe grapes on Monday and since then our team of mostly local workers has picked over 80 tonnes of fruit.
I say mostly because we’re very proud to have recruited nearly 100 people from the local area to pick grapes.. something we were told we wouldn’t be able to do. Read this article in The Times, click here. You’d think that the Brits are lazy or that picking fruit is beneath them!
We also have over a dozen people staying in our Flint Barns who have come from further afield: A father and son from Canada and Dubai, and as far away as Aberdeen and Nottingham, Worthing and London.
This isn’t a casual brag, but I went to a wine tasting in London the other day billed as the ‘biggest wine tasting in Europe’. It was given by the premium glass manufacturer, Riedel, by the eleventh-generation CEO himself, Maximilian Riedel.
In my delusional mind it was going to be an intimate affair, with me and a handful of other world-class wine writers. There were in fact hundreds of people in attendance, which made me feel so special. Like me, all had been lured by the title of the event, “A Tasting to find The Perfect Champagne Glass”.
Mark and I had a lovely evening last week, hosted by the Rotary Club in Eastbourne. They invited us to talk about Rathfinny and we did as a ‘double act’. We’ve given a fair few talks now and have settled into Mark talking about the wine and the vineyard, with me talking about our ‘engagement with the public’ side of the business – the Flint Barns, Sunday lunches, tours, Gun Room and events generally. Obviously, as is our want, we interrupt each other as we go along.
We are getting ready for harvest: all winemaking supplies are in and we have started to go through a thorough cleaning of the winery as we do every year.
At the same time, what we used to call the “on-lees storage”, the part of the winery that was dedicated to storing the ageing bottles from previous vintages, has been removed. The temporary walls have been taken down so now the whole ground floor of the winery is again one large open space. We also need to remove the very large AC unit, which used to cool down that space.
This week saw national Cycle to Work day which was an excellent excuse for me to ride my bike (again).
Fit, healthy, hard working pickers needed for our Harvest in October. No experience necessary but a love of the outdoors and willingness to work hard and get the job done essential.
We have a long list of people who have either worked at Rathfinny in the past or they have contacted us over the last year to say that they are keen to help out over harvest, but we are still keen to hear from anyone else.
I’m delighted to announce that our 2016 Cradle Valley Pinot Blanc : Pinot Gris has been passed as a ‘Sussex’ wine under the new PDO scheme now going through the European Commission in Brussels.
The new PDO scheme stipulates that the grapes have to come from Sussex and the wine has to be made in Sussex, so ensuring ‘provenance’. However, more importantly, it means the wine has gone through an
What with spraying, trimming, spraying, nets to go on, spraying, oh and some more spraying.
It’s been a busy few weeks on the vineyard, and with a man down having a back operation (Ian- get well soon) it’s been all hands to the pump.
We are a step closer to establishing ‘Sussex’ as a quality marque for wine, as DEFRA have submitted the PDO application to the European Commission. It will now go out to consultation with all EU member states and become a protected name under the EU GI scheme. It’s official, it’s on the DEFRA website.
We just bottled our 2016 sparkling wines, around 43,000 bottles and 3,200 magnums. Until this year we had been bottling at 2,500 bottles per hour, which worked fine for smaller production. We are now starting to get volumes of wine that require higher speed for bottling and this is the kind of equipment we have been looking at for when the time comes to purchase.