As the year draws to a close, I have been reflecting on the past year and what we’ve achieved at Rathfinny.
In 2015 we have started to see the results of all our collective hard work over the last five years. Yes, we have made mistakes and yes, we’ve been on a steep learning curve. For example, we underestimated the effects of the wind and the need to plant temporary wind breaks in order to give our tree breaks a chance. However, we have had a superb harvest giving great quality fruit and good yields from our young vines, and the Winery smells like a winery, the aromas of fermenting wine wafting up to the rafters and into the Tasting Room.
The most pleasing fact for me has been not only have we had our first ‘commercial’ harvest but, that we got great quality fruit in what was a challenging year. The summer was poor with July and August being cool and a little damp. However, September and October were fine and relatively dry and proved to be great ripening months and the wind that we’d worried about ended up keeping our fruit ‘clean’ and damage free, a problem we know other vineyards encountered. So we have a happy, busy winemaker and will have over 30,000 bottles in the cellar by next spring and are on track to release our first Sussex Sparkling wine in 2018.
The success we have had this year was given a further seal of approval by the French Champagne house, Taittinger, announcing that they are joining the English wine industry and have bought 69 hectares of land, also on chalk, in northern Kent. We must be doing something right this side of the Channel!
Elsewhere on the Estate the Flint Barns are proving popular with people staying all week through and, as you can read in our newsletter, Ade has branched out and is now offering Sunday lunches with a monthly supper club to start in January. The Gun Room goes from strength to strength, helped by having our still Cradle Valley wine to sell and the Events team have put on a host of ‘do’s as Georgia describes in our newsletter. Even my wife seems finally to believe that we may be on to something, so all in all I end the year on a quietly hopeful note.
Wishing you all a very peaceful and merry Christmas!
Looking forward to 2018 and launching our first sparkling wine.