Rathfinny Wine Estate

Not your usual day

I often say how varied the work in a vineyard can be, however this week I had a day that was quite unlike any other.

The day started like an ordinary day, heading down to the barn, to make sure the guys knew what they are doing for the day. Most of the team were off at a Biodiversity class learning about how we can benefit the vineyard through the use of host plants. So the remaining crew were left to do a bit of trellis repair work, as it was quite a pleasant morning not too cold with a bit of sun breaking through the clouds.

I left them to it as Jamie, Jonathan and I were representing Rathfinny at the opening of the UK Wine Research Centre at Plumpton College, and in particular the Rathfinny Research Winery. Not exactly my usual attire but I needed to get into my suit. Just as I was about to change I get a phone call….um the tractor’s PTO (power take off unit) won’t engage. A quick dash back to the barns to see what the problem was, pull half the dash off the tractor and after a lot of cursing the Italians that made the tractor, eventually the PTO was back up and running. It’s amazing that such a crucial piece of a tractor is held together with the tiniest split pin, smaller and less robust than my daughter’s hairpins! So crisis averted.

This time I got my suit on without interruptions.

The Plumpton Wine Research facility was opened by the Duchess Of Cornwall, quite fitting really as she grew up in the area and is the Patron of both Plumpton College and The UK Vineyards Association. We all were introduced to her, which was a bit nerve racking as there is a host of things to remember; what you should and shouldn’t say, and should and shouldn’t do. Luckily Jonathan and I weren’t deported for breaching Royal protocol, and I think Jamie still hasn’t washed his hand yet!

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So thanks to donors such as Mark and Sarah, the UK now has a top research facility, which the UK wine industry needs. This will help the industry grow as every new and exciting industry needs a strong research institution behind it. Plumpton College is that centre of excellence in the cool climate wine region of England.

So after spending the best part of a day with the high flyers of the English Wine industry and HRH, the tail end of the day was spent trying to communicate to a Romanian truck driver who had no, and I mean no English whatsoever. He had to do a half hour detour (to avoid going through Alfriston) to get to where he needed to be, to unload our vines for this years planting. So I led him on the detour, then I was unloading vines on the forklift – in the snow/sleet and hail.

Yes, that’s right, it seems that every time we decide to plant vines the weather turns. We are planting another 20 ha of vines in a couple of weeks time. Everything is prepared and ready to go. Vines are now on site, posts, wire, and everything else we need for the next stage of the vineyard is here.

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The existing vineyard has just started to show signs of life with the first buds starting to move, we should have budburst properly in a couple of weeks time, so here’s hoping for some nice weather.

So that sums up a not so typical day in the vineyard.

Cameron Roucher – Vineyard Manager

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