The Rathfinny Wine Estate is located just to the west of the Cuckmere Valley.
I came here as a child on a geography field trip to look at the meandering river and the iconic ox-bow lakes. I’m sure many other students have done the same over the years as the Cuckmere attracts over 400,000 visitors a year. Well those ox-bow lakes are now at risk because the Environment Agency (EA) decided in 2009 to give up on maintaining the sea defenses and wants the area below the A259, the Cuckmere Haven, to become a “self-sustaining system”. However, there is a problem with this plan because the shingle on the beach keeps shifting. All the modeling of water flows and the like can’t predict what will happen to shingle that blocks off the river mouth and prevents the river from emptying properly, so we get flooding up the valley, as you can see.
The wines from the 2014 harvest are currently “resting”. After they finished both fermentations (alcoholic and malolactic), they were racked off their lees and transferred into different tanks, along with a slight readjustment of the sulphur level to prevent oxidation and control microbiological activity. The wines were then left to settle even more.
When I take samples, the wines are now already looking clean, there is no more of the typical haze that can be seen just after fermentations. Now is the time for fining trials where I try different fining agents and assess how they affect the wine. The principle of fining is to remove undesirable components of the wine by agglomeration/flocculation and then sedimentation.
Happy New Year!
I spent most of the festive period on the Estate. It was a quiet time for me and gave me time to reflect on what has been achieved in restoring the Flint Barns to what we have today. So much hard work, dedication and passion has been put in by so many people. It also gave me time to think about the exciting future ahead for us all here on the Estate.
The main news is that the Flint Barns website is about to go live! You will soon be able to see how gorgeous it is inside, get information on the accommodation available, at reasonable prices, read about our locally sourced, home made food and make a plan to come and visit this ‘home away from home.’ It’s ideally placed for those who want to visit the area and walk the South Downs. At the moment there’s contact information for bookings but you’ll be able to do it online from the end of January.
New Year is a time for reflection and New Year’s resolutions. Mine normally revolve around losing weight and getting fit, after a period of excess it makes sense to have a few days off alcohol and try and shed a few kilos. However, this year is slightly different.
2015 starts with us moving into production and sales mode. We have spent four years planting and building and now we leave that behind us, for now, and we can start building the market for our wines. That is partly why we are working to establish a PDO for Sussex Sparkling.