Rathfinny Wine Estate

“The most important thing about education is…”

This is one of the many quotations left to us by the great Winston Churchill. He finished by saying that the most important thing about education is “appetite”. Any of us could finish this sentence in a different way. Here at Rathfinny Estate we aim to whet the appetite as well as fulfil it. We are also aware that education does not stop when you leave school. The appetite may change, you may seek new ideas or just wish to look at the world via a different perspective.

In the English wine industry we are fortunate to have Plumpton College, which is affiliated to Brighton University, right on our doorstep. Plumpton has become world renowned for its courses in both vinification and viticulture. Many of our vineyard staff have been trained at Plumpton and continue to do so. The Estate were major supporters of the new Rathfinny Research Winery at the college to really hone the skills of their students which come from all over the world to study there.

My personal research on the planting of wildflowers between the vine rows has now resulted in the assigning of a PhD student from Sussex University to work alongside me (and vice versa!) under the acclaimed tutoring of Prof Dave Goulson. The simplified aim of this research is to ascertain the variety and density of wildflowers which will attract specific parasitic insects to feed off the insects we do not wish to see. We are encouraging nature to do the work for us as a biological control rather than using chemicals. Various moths and their caterpillars can be devastating for vineyards and now we have the arrival in the UK (not at Rathfinny!) of the spotted wing drosophila (a fruit fly with a very sharp bottom!) It uses its sharp rear appendage to saw through the skin of fruit and lay its eggs and introduce disease. Not good.

Our research has led to interest from Syngenta (a fairly large agro-chemical company) and the East Malling Research Centre amongst others – as we all wish to learn from each other. Even the French vineyards are requesting a visit to discuss this research, so the work will go bi-lingual – even more learning and a broader appetite!

With our music festival approaching shortly in June we have taken the opportunity to offer some invaluable placement work for two students from Brighton University. These two performing art students will be working alongside not only the musicians from London Conchord Ensemble but also technical experts to hone their skills on lighting and sound. http://www.rathfinnyestate.com/events/


Brighton College students getting an ‘appetite’ for geology!

The newly opened Flint Barns is always a hive of activity.  We have schools coming from Reading, Oxford, Hertfordshire and also closer to home from Brighton and Hastings. Next week we have ARK William Parker from Hastings coming here for an intensive maths GCSE day – I will hasten to add at this point that they will be taught by their teachers and not me on this subject!

We describe the Flint Barns as a “home away from home” and the bookings via Sawdays have been flowing in. But as an education facility perhaps we should alter this to “the place to expand your appetite”! And I’m not just referring to ‘chef’s’ cooking prowess.

Nestled in the vines the Flint Barns is a stunningly unique building

We have interest from companies to run wine training weekends to choir singing and last week we took a booking from our neighbours, the National Trust, for a two day staff training course on managing chalk grassland. So if you run a club or are seeking a location to run a course, event or meeting in a unique location please do get in touch.



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