Rathfinny Wine Estate

Doesn’t time fly?

So, this is a (personal) milestone in blogging for me.  I have now been an employee here at Rathfinny Wine Estate for 12 months.  So what have I done in this time?  (Faint cry from the cheap seats of “not a lot”)

It’s been a whirl wind time of non-stop work where I have been able to utilise my skills and also learn new ones a plenty.  I won’t bore you with the details of my day to day routine, but while I have your undivided attention, I would like to propose that you watch this space for future research from me in the vineyard.  Because, while Cameron, Jamie and Jonathan were shaking hands with Royalty, I was meeting ecological ‘royalty’ in the form of Professor Steve Wratten from New Zealand.  It is early days yet, but in conjunction with Steve and hopefully Professor Dave Goulson* from Sussex University, I’m assessing the best way to enhance native biological gain in our vineyard to improve invertebrates (little critters) which will benefit our vines.  Watch this space and follow me on twitter (@rathfinnyrich) for regular updates.

For those followers of this blog, you may remember a post about the birth of our triplets entitled “Rollercoaster Ride”.  Well, I’m not sure what ticket we purchased but it’s now six months on and the ride shows no sign of stopping or indeed slowing down.  The question my Rock* and I get asked is “what’s it like and how do you do it”.  Firstly, we are not alone.  There are others out there who have triplets and even more!

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The one word that sums it up is relentless.  Relentless feeding, relentless nappy changing and relentless washing to put away!  The numbers game – 560 nappies a month, 900 wipes every 2 weeks, 65kgs of formula(!) and 2016hrs of feeding (12hrs per day – do the math?).

However, the most important and crucial number of all.  We now have 4 beautiful and healthy children.

They are all sitting up, rolling around, giggling, smiling, defecating, laughing and squawking.  Often in the morning before I leave for work, I would put my money on the fact that we had produced three pterodactyls from all the noise emanating from their room.

The lack of sleep has been painful.  The continuous rounds of feeding have been endless.  The Rock has stood her ground and not waivered, purely because, just when you are at your lowest, covered in baby slime, surrounded by washing, still in your pj’s and a six year old that wants to play hula hoop with you – one of the triplets will smile or giggle.  Priceless.

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My personal bug bear – if you’re reading this and you’re local, and you see me and my Rock with the tribe, please come over and chat and ask all the questions you wish.  It gets rather off putting when people just point and assume because we have triplets we miraculously became deaf at the same time – “oooo, that man has three babies, do you think they are all his……or…….wow, three babies I couldn’t do that, how could you?….”

So, come September I’ll be able to provide you all with a 12mth tribe update.  And hopefully by then I will have put that final basket of washing away and conquered the hula hoop.

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(If washing is not put away, then more of the tribe will end up wearing the Rock’s knickers!)

Must go now and count critters between the vines…..

Ed – *Dave Goulson – author of incredible book entitled “Sting in the Tale”.

*the Rock – aka my fantastic and beautiful wife and mother to 4 wonderful children

Richard

 

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Not your usual day

I often say how varied the work in a vineyard can be, however this week I had a day that was quite unlike any other.

The day started like an ordinary day, heading down to the barn, to make sure the guys knew what they are doing for the day. Most of the team were off at a Biodiversity class learning about how we can benefit the vineyard through the use of host plants. So the remaining crew were left to do a bit of trellis repair work, as it was quite a pleasant morning not too cold with a bit of sun breaking through the clouds.

I left them to it as Jamie, Jonathan and I were representing Rathfinny at the opening of the UK Wine Research Centre at Plumpton College, and in particular the Rathfinny Research Winery. Not exactly my usual attire but I needed to get into my suit. Just as I was about to change I get a phone call….um the tractor’s PTO (power take off unit) won’t engage. A quick dash back to the barns to see what the problem was, pull half the dash off the tractor and after a lot of cursing the Italians that made the tractor, eventually the PTO was back up and running. It’s amazing that such a crucial piece of a tractor is held together with the tiniest split pin, smaller and less robust than my daughter’s hairpins! So crisis averted.

This time I got my suit on without interruptions.

The Plumpton Wine Research facility was opened by the Duchess Of Cornwall, quite fitting really as she grew up in the area and is the Patron of both Plumpton College and The UK Vineyards Association. We all were introduced to her, which was a bit nerve racking as there is a host of things to remember; what you should and shouldn’t say, and should and shouldn’t do. Luckily Jonathan and I weren’t deported for breaching Royal protocol, and I think Jamie still hasn’t washed his hand yet!

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So thanks to donors such as Mark and Sarah, the UK now has a top research facility, which the UK wine industry needs. This will help the industry grow as every new and exciting industry needs a strong research institution behind it. Plumpton College is that centre of excellence in the cool climate wine region of England.

So after spending the best part of a day with the high flyers of the English Wine industry and HRH, the tail end of the day was spent trying to communicate to a Romanian truck driver who had no, and I mean no English whatsoever. He had to do a half hour detour (to avoid going through Alfriston) to get to where he needed to be, to unload our vines for this years planting. So I led him on the detour, then I was unloading vines on the forklift – in the snow/sleet and hail.

Yes, that’s right, it seems that every time we decide to plant vines the weather turns. We are planting another 20 ha of vines in a couple of weeks time. Everything is prepared and ready to go. Vines are now on site, posts, wire, and everything else we need for the next stage of the vineyard is here.

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The existing vineyard has just started to show signs of life with the first buds starting to move, we should have budburst properly in a couple of weeks time, so here’s hoping for some nice weather.

So that sums up a not so typical day in the vineyard.

Cameron Roucher – Vineyard Manager

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