Rathfinny Wine Estate

End of Season

Another season draws to a close for the vineyard.

The vineyard is winding down, we had our first frost this morning, giving everyone a bit of a shock considering what a warm autumn we’ve had.

The fruit has been harvested, and its juice is now slowly bubbling away in the winery, and I’ve never seen Jonathan happier. Finally he has a chance to be in his element doing what he’s here to do.

All the development blocks are now finished with posts and wire, the guys in the vineyard can finally do something else!

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It’s a quite time of year for the vineyard, doing all those jobs that we’ve been too busy to do through out the year, catching up on much needed maintenance, cleaning the barns out, and generally getting things in order before winter sets in proper.

Given the temperature’s we’ve been having we’re madly trying to get as much grass seed in before we loose the opportunity. Its always a battle in Autumn to get as much of the vineyard grassed down as possible before A) it gets too cold, and/or B) it gets too wet. We’re right at the end of the weather window at the moment, we just need a few more dry days…

Cameron Roucher – Vineyard Manager

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Hijacking Rathfinny blog

For those of you who regularly read our blog, you may have noticed a distinct absence of news from me. It is not because I have been doing nothing, but rather that I have been doing a lot and I am shamelessly hijacking our Rathfinny blog to tell you about it!

Many of you will know that I have been actively involved in the world of dyslexia for many years now, that our Trust is part of the national Dyslexia SpLD Trust and that I have lobbied hard to change the way teachers are trained in this country.  It is estimated that 10% of the population are dyslexic,  that’s 3 children on average in every class.

The Fish in the Tree report that we published last year, showed that 74% of teachers didn’t feel that they’d been trained with the skills necessary to teach those with dyslexia, yet 84% thought it was important that they had this training.

The problem isn’t just about dyslexia – it’s about teachers having the skills to teach any child who struggles with literacy.  The national statistics show we have a problem:

  • 1 in 4 children fail to master the basics of writing in primary school.
  • 1 in 9 children fail to master the basics of reading in primary school.
  • A third of pupils did not reach a grade C in English GCSE last year.
  • We have 6 million functionally illiterate adults in the UK, unable to read a tin of baked beans!

Over the past 5 years I’ve been working with Ark schools to put in place a literacy programme that addresses this.  It’s called Drive for Literacy. None of it is rocket science but what makes it different is that it addresses the problem from a whole school perspective, from senior leadership recognising the need for their teachers to understand that some children have literacy problems like dyslexia and that there is merit in addressing this.  Teachers are trained, children are screened, interventions are put in place and parents are consulted.  So far, it’s had really encouraging results, with these children with a SEN (special educational need) achieving almost as well as other children without issues do nationally on their phonics test, and over twice as well as other children with SEN in our country.

Today, we’ve launched a website www.driveforliteracy.co.uk that details Drive for Literacy and offers easy to access, free resources for teachers, parents and dyslexic pupils.  There’s a series of short films, the most poignant I think is ‘What it feels like to be dyslexic’ – and you may recognise some of the participants!!

Why am I telling you this?  I need your help to spread the word to schools and teachers you know, parents of dyslexics and other dyslexics.

How?

Join the campaign:

The #YouKnowADyslexic campaign includes a video endorsement from Eddie Izzard, who is himself dyslexic: Win a sausage (and learn about dyslexia).

The Trust is encouraging everyone to support the campaign:

·       Tweet using the hashtag #YouKnowADyslexic – take a picture!

·       Follow @DriverTrust on twitter

·       Download free resources from www.driveforliteracy.co.uk

Tell all your friends and especially any teachers and parents with children with dyslexia about this free resource.

Thank you

Sarah Driver

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So long, “new winery smell”

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We harvested some nice Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc grapes and we successfully commissioned our 4 tonne Coquard press with “whole clusters”. The juice came out quite clear, as expected.

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The juice was transferred by gravity to settling tanks, where we let it settle for about 24 hours. After this, the juice was racked off its lees into a tank where it was inoculated with selected yeast.

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Since then, the winery has been filled with the nice—or I should say exquisite—smell of fermenting juice.

The temperature control system has proven efficient, which means that we were able to keep the fermenting wine at a constant temperature to allow for a steady fermentation. Remember, during the alcoholic fermentation, yeast metabolise sugars and convert them into alcohol and CO2, as well as energy, in the form of heat. Left unmanaged, the temperature can get to a level that is lethal to yeast. We were able to control the temperature of the fermentation in the tanks. Here you can see the foam from healthy yeast activity:

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About half of the wine lots are now technically “dry”, which means that all the sugars have been consumed. The other half is getting close, but they will need another couple of days.

The dry wines are now kept at just over 20°C in order to promote lactic bacteria, which will then initiate the malolactic fermentation, during which malic acid will be converted into lactic acid. While yeast can ferment at low temperatures, around 12°C, bacteria need a warmer environment to thrive, between 20°C and 25°C. This is when being able to keep tanks warm is VERY useful.

I’m now closely monitoring the decrease in malic acid concentration in the wines. Once the concentration is down to zero, we’ll put the wines to “sleep” and start the process of clarifying/fining and stabilizing – this will likely happen mid-December.

We’ll keep you posted on the progress!

Jonathan Médard – Winemaker

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