2014 is set to be a record-breaking year for English wine-making.
Unlike some French wine-producers who have seen their vines almost destroyed by hail, English vineyards have been bathed in warm rain and sunshine.
One of the newest, Rathfinny between Seaford and Alfriston, is offering people the chance to tour the estate, and find out how the estate’s first sparkling wine will be produced.
A series of tours of the estate will show visitors how the grapes will be turned into Sussex sparkling wine.
During the tour, a guide will illustrate the vineyard year and show people the various processes in the estate’s purpose-built winery.
The tour starts and finishes at the Gun Room Shop, (formerly Alfriston’s United Reformed Church building) situated on the Tye.
Walking through the vines in a small group with an experienced guide allows people to fully appreciate the position Rathfinny holds in this iconic landscape.
Visitors can explore the vineyard and learn the history and about all the wildlife that inhabits this downland estate. The tour lasts about two hours and finishes with what organisers describe as ‘a delicious winemakers’ lunch’. This is a light meal prepared with seasonal produce using fresh, local ingredients and designed to complement your glass of English sparkling wine. It takes place in the specially designed tasting room where people can enjoy wonderful views of the vineyard which nestles in the Downs.
After lunch they will be transported back to the Gun Room where they can browse specially selected gifts and wine accessories an, of course, wander along the High Street and ancient twittens of Alfriston itself. There are selected tour dates on Fridays and Saturdays through the summer until October. The tours start at 11am and cost £55 per person. Call 870022.