The Gun Room on the Tye in Alfriston is our Cellar Door. It’s where you can taste and buy our wine and other wine related products, and book vineyard tours.
Situated in the heart of Alfriston, the Sussex Heritage Award winning Gun Room has proved a very popular destination for visitors to the village, partly because we gave over the entire upstairs space to create a Heritage Centre; a permanent exhibition on the history of Alfriston and the Cuckmere Valley.
As I sit here writing this blog, it’s raining outside in biblical proportions, 37mm of rain this morning on top of the 25mm we had last night. The winery drains are flooding, the vineyard is too wet to drive a tractor on, in fact there are rivers running down some rows- I thought this was summer?
Now that flowering is well and truly over it’s time to start our first part of yield estimations. Bunch counts, which is actually just as it sounds, counting bunches is hardly the most riveting job, but is a good way to get a decent estimation of what fruit we have hanging on the vines. It’s also an interesting way to see the variability between the individual clones and their different growth habits. We have 10 different clones in the Pinot Noir alone, and the differences are quite marked.
Over the years many people for many reasons have carved figures into the chalk – from the Cerne Abbas Giant, Long Man of Wilmington and White Horse in the Cuckmere Valley near Alfriston, these dramatic ‘carvings’ have become both iconic and in some cases mysterious.
Rathfinny Estate are on a journey to produce internationally renowned sparkling wine, and now we have our own chalk work of art.
Ours is steeped in local history. Firstly, the shield itself – this has come from the Sussex county flag which depicts six martlets (these are heraldic swallows, and I can’t help thinking of the scene in Monty Pythons Holy Grail when they discuss air speed velocity of a Barn Swallow flying with a coconut – I’m not sure a heraldic swallow would get to Africa wearing a gold crown!). I digress.
I keep being told that this is ‘typical English summer’, which is defined as “two fine days then a thunderstorm”. But I have memories of the long hazy days with parched lawns and the red shoulders of my youth and somehow this doesn’t feel that typical. So I checked back and those blistering summers are certainly a rarity not the norm – 1911, 1933, 1959, 1976 (I remember that one) and 1995. Perhaps the norm is a two or three mini-heatwaves followed by a thunderstorm?