Rathfinny Wine Estate

Sussex Sparkling PDO

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.

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It’s Pruning Time!

While we haven’t started pruning for real yet, we have done a little bit to get our eye in before we really get started after the holidays.

This is the first year we can truly feel like we are pruning for a real purpose. The vines are now getting bigger; they have grown more this past season than any other, and we are starting to refine our techniques and systems of pruning.

We ‘cane prune’ all the vines, because in our cooler climate the lower buds of the vine are less fruitful and will generally have less vigour than a lot of vineyard sites, partly due to our shallow soils.

When you prune, you have to keep in mind not just the season just gone, but what we want to see the coming season and following season after that.

Pruning is both complex and a simple process at the same time.

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‘Tis the Season!

In my previous blog, I mentioned that most wines were dry, meaning that all the sugars had been consumed. Well, ALL our lots are now dry. At the time, 6 weeks ago, none of the lots had started the malolactic fermentation – the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid – which gives the wine a “buttery” quality: they are now nearly all through this process as well. The last lot is lagging a bit because it is quite a large volume compared to the already finished lots, but is expected to finish malolactic fermentation this week. Healthy bubbling from the malolactic activity can be seen here:

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Things are going according to plan, which means that we’ll be able to rack this final lot off its lees, and let it settle further. In the meantime, we will start fining trials, using different fining agents and assessing the results through laboratory analysis as well as sensory evaluation. This will leave me enough time to spend Christmas in France tasting Champagne. As rigorous analysis is required, this may have to happen every day! I will bring some English sparkling to share with fellow winemakers.

As Will, my assistant during the last three months, is leaving in early January to work the vintage in Australia, I am trying to get things done before he’s gone, because after this I will be on my own again! Will has been very helpful and I wish him all the best in his endeavours in the South Hemisphere – so good luck, and don’t forget to come back!

To all, a Merry Christmas and a Happy (Bubbly) New year!

Jonathan Médard – Winemaker

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Dickensian Night

A couple of weeks ago it was Dickensian night in Alfriston village, the Dickensian event is held every year late on in November. All the shops and community take part with many people dressing up in authentic clothing of alpaca fabric which is kind of warm but great for a good winter; the high street is full of events and stalls to suit everyone, young and old.  The Gun Room was open for everyone to come in and either browse the products in the shop, talk to the staff about Rathfinny Wine Estate, The Flint Barns or try some of our special “Cloves Spiced Sussex Sparkling” Everyone had a great evening telling all of the people about the exciting developments at the estate.

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On Friday, 14th November, we held our Harvest Staff Dinner at the Flint Barns. To start off with a full team meeting was held to discuss present & future plans and also to answer the questions that some of us had, it was a great meeting that was really informative, it will be something we will certainly conduct twice a year in the future. After the team meeting everyone went their separate ways to get changed and pick up their partners for our meal. It is the first time I have be here when all the staff and their partners are all together, a really fun evening was had by everyone.

The website for the Flint Barns is coming along nicely and I hope to have the pages up and running in a week or so & I’m really hoping to be open and ready for bookings by 9th & 10th January 15

Spike, my Parsons, absolutely loves life on the Estate, he’s never had so much to dig for, to chase, to bark at or even to run away from – when the seagulls gang up and go for him he’s off. A couple of weeks ago a new terrier moved in on another part of the estate, Harry is his name and at the moment they are just getting used to each other but have great fun running around chasing each other, certainly tires Spike out.

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Whilst working in the Gun Room on Dickensian Day I managed to have a good look around the products of the shop, my favourite candles are still there but selling quickly.  There is also a fantastic range of new food products, they are certainly worth a look at as I’m sure they would make fabulous little stocking filler with Christmas just around there corner.

Don’t forget the Gun Room is having an “Open House” this Sunday 7th December with 10% off the prices; it’s certainly worth popping in to view.

I won’t be back until 2015, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a fabulous Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Adrian Lamb – Flint Barns Manager

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