Rathfinny Wine Estate

Harvest completed


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.  I completely ignored Mark suggestion of a ‘Trump’esque’ speech complete with hand jabbing – ‘Bring them in’, ‘Grapes are us’, ‘Way to go’  … you can see why I ignored him!

Those pickers who stayed at the Flint Barns seemed united in their appreciation of the place.  This comment seems to encompass the general feeling – “The accommodation and picking has excelled any expectations.  Lovely staff and environment to be in.  Wonderful opportunity to meet such a diverse range of people in the vines.”  Here are the pickers enjoying lunch at the end of a hard 2 weeks.

We’ve had some marvellous group picking days.  We were joined by about 50 pickers from the ‘village’ which included Eastbourne and the surrounding villages and it was lovely to see new and old faces.  The weather was kind and we finished the session off with stew and mash and glasses of wine in the sunshine, along with cheese and biscuits and what my mother would call ‘more’ish’ brownies, because you always want more!  We had to cancel our ‘Friends and Family’ day on Saturday because of ‘Storm Brian’, but Sunday was kind and we had a lot of friends in the trade come and join us with their families.  Here’s a picture of our design team at Utile, along with Buster.
Buster is actually not a ‘good news’ story.  I let him roam around eating fallen grapes for an entire morning and I can only say the aftermath was horrific!  It didn’t stop in our utility room, but he decided, on a day when we had an MP visit, to ‘go’ under my desk.  I was left explaining the unusual aroma as a mix of dog p** and toilet freshener – not my finest moment!
Back to the good news.  I visited the team in the winery during harvest, and here’s Frances, David and Will looking at an ‘early’ night of going home at 9pm.
They had been there until 2 in the morning under the expert guidance of Jonathan…
with his new tanks ….
There’s something so exciting about seeing and smelling the newly pressed grapes.  The whole winery is drenched in an autumnal, sweet aroma of apple and berries, with hints of sunshine and barrels thrown in.  It’s magical.  When I’m working at DYT, our literacy charity, it’s always when I’m in schools with learners that I get most fulfilment from what we do, when I can really see our work in action.  It’s the same at Rathfinny.  It’s when I’m in the vineyard, with people enjoying what they do, seeing the grapes and then the result in the winery, it reminds me why we started this mad project nearly 7 years ago. It’s all there – excitement, anticipation and happiness in the whiff of a winery!  Now to bring on the bubbles in the glass …. celebrating Sussex.



  • As one of those lucky enough to be grape-picking for this year’s harvest may I say to people ‘Give this a go!’ It’s truly therapeutic to be working out in the beautiful South Downs with such friendly people and helping in the production of such a classy product as ‘Sussex Sparkling’. The owners, Mark and Sarah are most approachable people, always happy to take the time to answer any questions and what a nice meal they provided at the end – with wine of course!! Great experience. Try it!!!

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