Vineyard Tour, Wine Tasting & Overnight at Rathfinny Wine Estate | Travel
So tell us about Rathfinny
It is one of the vineyards and cellars that have been part of the English wine revolution over the last decade. The vineyard was established by husband and wife, Mark and Sarah Driver, in 2010 on an arable farm. The first vines were planted in 2012 and their wines will go on sale in 2018. They are fortunate to have quite spectacular south-facing land in the South Downs which sits on the same chalk strip as many of the vineyards in the North of France. safe and protected from squalls in the neighboring Channel with a final hill before reaching the sea.
What is Rathfinny’s main selling point?
This sprawling Sussex estate is one of the few wineries to have its own upscale restaurant – The Tasting Room does an excellent job of serving weekday lunches and weekend dinners. But that’s not all – there’s also another more casual eatery in the park, The Flint Barns Dining Hall, as well as a picnic offering and a new take-out option, The Hut. All of this makes it quite an attractive place to visit.
How do you get there?
It is quite possible to get there by train if you do not have access to a car or if you simply prefer the most ecological travel solution. There are regular trains from London Bridge to nearby Berwick station (change at Brighton). The journey takes less than two hours and you will need to pre-book a taxi to take you 10 minutes to Rathfinny.
If you want to explore the area further, a car might come in handy. Took us about two hours from north London outside of rush hour, but if you’re based in south London it should be a lot quicker.
Where are you staying?
The Flint Barns is described as a “bed and breakfast” but it’s a bit more luxurious than that. The barn itself has a huge yard, perfect for enjoying the glass of bubbly that comes with your holiday package. There is a very comfortable lounge for after dinner drinks and the restaurant itself is open for breakfast and dinner.
How is the room ?
There are 10 en-suite bedrooms in the barn, ranging from a single to the super deluxe double (which comfortably sleeps three or four people on two beds (one trundle) and which also has two separate shower rooms There are a few things we would like to see added (charging stations for phones next to the bed would be a plus, as well as a fridge to put whatever you bought at the cellar door), but the rooms are very nicely appointed with lovely toiletries and a Nespresso machine for your early morning caffeine needs They are also baby and dog friendly with cots available on request.
So you’re at a winery, you’ll probably be able to try some of the wines?
Of course – and if you’re on the Escape to Sussex package, the tour and tasting are included in your stay. We had a small group guided tour through the vineyards (visit is limited to the winery during cooler months and during harvest time) – which was friendly and informative.
This tour ends in the tasting room with a chance to try four of their wines, including still and sparkling. Our favorite was the Blancs de Noirs but wine writer Jancis Robinson likes their Rosé and describes Rathfinny Estate as “one of England’s most ambitious wines, and the quality of its produce seems to increase as the vines age”.
All that crisp Sussex air has made us hungry – what’s for dinner?
The tasting room is popular with tourists and locals alike and can be booked well in advance, so keep that in mind.
Indeed, the tasting room was full when we visited, so we were in the Flint Barns for dinner. The estate describes this as their more relaxed dining experience, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food on offer. Here’s some of what we’ve tried to give you an idea – two courses are £30 and three are £35.
There is also something to seduce vegetarians on the menu, including a very pretty tomato and burrata tart with a crumble of black olives and nasturtium leaves.
How was the breakfast?
It was very, very good – one of the best breakfasts we’ve had in a while. Our plates of streaky bacon, sourdough, eggs and field mushrooms were cooked to order and just about perfect (the amazing bacon, in particular).
Other things to do
This summer, the estate is opening The Hut – a pick-and-go place for food and drink to go. But you can also book for one of the vineyard picnics. For £29.50 per person (£13.50 for children) the menu includes a baked baguette, salad and dips, a choice of main course such as Fosse Meadow Curry Chicken Rillette with Leaves poached apricot and curry or a parfait of smoked mackerel with dill and bagel crumb, followed by a dessert. There’s a marquee set up at the back of the Flint Barns if the weather is bad, but there’s also a huge outdoor area with picnic tables and great views of the vines.
And can we take some of the wine home?
Of course – there is a cellar shop here which carries all the wines produced by the estate, as well as their Seven Sisters range – brandy, vermouth and gin all made with grape spirit from every Rathfinny harvest by the Silent Pool team in neighboring Surrey. There’s also some in the fridge, so if you’re taking the train back, it could be very handy.
Learn more about Rathfinny Wine Estate
Where is it? Alfriston, Polegate BN26 5TU
How much does it cost to stay there?: The Escape to Sussex package starts at £241 for two and includes a glass of Rathfinny Classic Cuvée on arrival, overnight stay, tour and tasting, three-course dinner at Flint Barns dining room and breakfast seasonal lunch. The visit and tasting alone cost £27.50.
Learn more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @rathfinnyestate
Hot dinners stayed as Rathfinny’s guests. Prices correct at time of publication.
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