Virgin vineyards and hog on a spit

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This past week proved a thrilling time for any and all involved with Rathfinny Estate in England’s Cuckmere Valley as the first vineyard took shape. It is stunning to watch the transformation of a virgin field into a vineyard planted with such geometric precision, it’d make mathematicians weep.


A media blitz (TV, radio, and print) captured the process and catapulted Rathfinny and its visionary team into national consciousness. Much of the coverage can be found on the Rathfinny Press Page, but I’m still keeping my eyes peeled for clips of some of the more entertaining interviews (including the one in which the French winemaker refers to his position in England as “treason”–tee hee), which I will post as/if I find them.

The planting week was followed by a celebratory hog roast (our dog, Brix, took great pleasure in this and began stalking the carcass left dangling on the spit) and hand plantings of vines by members of the community (hundreds of them!). Below, my husband (Jonathan, winemaker and hand-planter extraordinaire) carefully plants his symbolic vine towards the top of the field. Don’t worry, the overwhelming bulk of the work was largely mechanized wherein two planters atop a GPS-guided tractor fed the vines, one by one, into position. It is a skill that that my knitting fingers envy (yes, I knit! thank goodness for the hoards of sheep in England) to move one’s hands that quickly, all day long, for days on end, without skipping a beat.

hand vine planting, vineyard

Establishing a brand spanking new vineyard in a pioneering region of the world is a rare sight. Rathfinny had the bold foresight to share this magical event, in real time, with all of us lucky enough to be here, the local villagers, the southeast region, and the entire world (TV interviews are even expected to air in both the United States and Australia, if they haven’t already).

For good measure, here is a photo of the two of us–forever Married to Wine (aww!)–in front of a portion of the completed first phase of vineyard development. The trellises aren’t up yet, but I can assure you that those aren’t sticks or poles or rods, but actual grafted vines from Germany coated in a protective green wax.

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