Rathfinny Wine Estate

Rain, rain and more rain… then snow. How are the vines Mark?

The week before last I was invited up to Liverpool to talk at a dinner held by a group who call themselves the LADS, the Lancashire Agricultural Discussion Society. I thought they’d want to hear about why I’m transforming Rathfinny from an arable farm into a vineyard, when wheat prices are hitting new highs. In fact many of them wanted to hear about hedge funds and how they work.

My memory of Lancashire when I attended Lancaster University, in the early 80’s, was that it rained everyday and the rain was mostly horizontal! So it came as no surprise to hear that it had been pretty wet up there in 2012. After the dinner several of the guys approached me and we talked about the weather, as you do. One farmer told me how in 2012, he had had 1498mm (59 inches) of rain, another had experienced 1422mm (56 inches).  Not wishing to sound like a weather bore, it was very interesting and made me look at our weather data when I got back.

We had 940mm (37 inches) of rain at Rathfinny in 2012, which is about 17.5% above the average for the past sixty years but 50% more the rainfall than we had in 2011! However, according to the Eastbourne weather data it is not a record or even close. In 2000 and 2002 Eastbourne, which is only 6miles away, recorded 1062mm and 1028mm of rain and in 1960 they had 1178mm of rain.

So what about temperatures? This is when it becomes interesting. The average annual temperature at Rathfinny in 2012 was 11.3C which, although lower than the record set in 2011 of 12.3C, was still above the average of 10.8C for the past sixty years. The trouble was that whilst we had a very very hot March, the key growing months of June, July, September and even October were very cool.

So whilst Cameron and his team are carefully pruning the vines and they rest under a blanket of snow, we are left to think ahead to 2013 and hope that we have a more normal weather year, hoepfully following the warming trend set over the last twenty years, and I promise that this year I won’t pray for rain!!

france-vineyards_2421767k.jpg.scaled600

By the way vines survive under snow and frost.  It’s only in extremely harsh winters, like those experienced in Canada, that you have to protect them. The picture above is of Champagne.

Weather bores, like me, can consult the Met office website…
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/2012/annual.html

Great excitement this week – the glue laminated wooden beams which will form the roof of the Winery arrived this week and despite the snow on the ground they started to put them in place.

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