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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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
We’ve had a really busy time in the Gun Room preparing for Christmas and re-arranging the layout. Regular visitors will notice that we now have two new, dedicated sections on the Estate Tours and the Flint Barns and they’ll also notice the brand new stock.
Come and see for yourself!
We’ve having an ‘Open House’ on Sunday, 7th December, 10.00 am until 4.00pm, where you can enjoy a glass of English Sparkling Wine as you browse and take advantage of the 10% discount that we’re offering. In particular, look out for
- Estate Tour Vouchers – perfect for those people in your life that you always struggle to know what to buy.
“ The whole experience was uplifting, informative and motivational”
- You can buy a voucher in a beautiful presentation box for either a Winemaker’s Lunch or an Estate Tea Tour. As part of a small group (maximum 16) the Tour includes a walk through the vineyard where our experts will talk not only about Rathfinny and our vines but also about the land and the wildlife on our part of the South Downs. See our brand new presses and shiny stainless steel tanks and learn about the process of making Sussex Sparkling wine before having a super lunch or tea in our new Tasting Room. This really is an exclusive offer; whilst there are footpaths across the land there is no other way to see the vines up close or the Winery and Tasting Room.
- Winemakers Lunch Tour £55 per person and Afternoon Tea Tour £35 per person. If you come along on the 7th December and purchase vouchers you will receive 10% discount. http://rathfinnyestate.com/visit/tours/ Alternatively if you can’t come and see us you can book vouchers online (discount only applies in store)
- Flint Barns our “home from home” is nearly open- come and chat with us about how you can come and stay in the Flint Barns. Our website goes live in the New Year.
- Our section aimed at the man in your life – gifts he will really appreciate this Christmas – cufflinks, cocktail bar (!) and much more
- Delicious treats, luxury chocolates, slow baked Dottato Figs, Grape Nectar, Ouse Valley jams and chutneys. We’ll happily make up hampers at no extra charge.
- Our books on wine – there’s something for everyone from World Atlas of Wine to Wine Makes Mummy Clever!
- Brand new range Noble Isle is a high-performing bath and body range that uses the finest fragrance and natural extracts, and the best of British design, to create a lasting sensory impression.
- For the woman in your life – try our luxury Caudalie range. All the ingredients come from grapes, vines, leaves and seeds and are transformed into these luxurious, premium products. Hand crafted pots, prints by local artists, a warm blanket to snuggle up in front of the fire with – the list goes on – you’ll just have to come and see for yourself!
Sarah Driver – shop dresser extraordinare