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Rathfinny Estate

Rathfinny Estate

Rathfinny was founded in 2010 by Mark Driver, a founding partner of a hedge fund management group, and his solicitor wife Sarah, just down the road from the historic village of Alfriston near the eastern end of the South Downs way. They created their vineyard from scratch on a working arable farm, with the explicit intention of crafting some of the globe's finest Traditional Method sparking wines. The site has been farmed since medieval times - the name comes from the Celtic “Rath” meaning “enclosure” and “Finny”, the name of the original farmer. The single vineyard is planted just three miles from the sea, on a south-facing slope on the same band of chalk that forms the Paris Basin, which runs from Northern France, underneath the Channel to the South coast of England. This soil composition, together with the semi-continental maritime climate and aspect, creates a unique microclimate, perfect for growing premium grapes for the production of quality wines. Their first 50 acres were planted in 2012, and presently 250 acres are under vine. The aim is eventually to have 350 under cultivation, setting Rathfinny to become one of the largest single wine estates in Europe. They grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for their Sussex sparkling wines, and smaller blocks of Pinot Gris for their Cradle Valley still wine. The winemaking approach is low-intervention to express the terroir and preserve the natural flavours of the fruit, which is hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed. Patient maturation develops rich autolytic notes, and a low dosage emphasises the purity of the fruit. On occasion some fermentation and ageing is carried out in oak barrels which develops even more complexity. Rathfinny spearheaded the campaign to have Sussex recognised as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), which introduces a stricter set of rules for viticulture and winemaking to reflect the quality of wines made in Sussex. Their logo infers the East Sussex coat of arms, using the same shield-shape and red colour, but cleverly replacing the six Golden Martlets with white grapes. Rathfinny is one of England's leading sparkling wine estates, producing a portfolio of world-class wines from Sussex!