Great British Boltholes: Rathfinny Wine Estate in East Sussex is the newcomer with a sparkling future
- Rathfinny is a new destination for English wine near the pretty village of Alfriston
- It offers bed and breakfast at the Flint Barns, which can also be hired for parties
- By 2022, the estate expects to produce over 80,000 cases of sparkling wine
You may not have heard of Rathfinny, but head to the South Downs, beyond the pretty village of Alfriston in East Sussex, and you’ll discover an exciting new destination for English wine.
Rathfinny Wine Estate is a labour of love for husband-and-wife owners Mark and Sarah Driver, who bought the 600 acres in 2010. They recognised that the undulating slopes and chalky soil would be perfect for grapes to produce sparkling wine.
The first vines were planted in 2012 and last month Rathfinny harvested a bumper crop. By 2022, the estate expects to produce more than 80,000 cases of sparkling wine.
Bumper crop: Vines outside the 40-seater Winery Tasting Room
Rathfinny offers bed and breakfast at the restored Flint Barns, which can also be hired for parties. With ten bedrooms, it’s a small, modern retreat where you can enjoy meals in an airy loft-style communal dining room with open kitchen and bar.
While it’s a great place to stay for walkers who want to explore the South Downs Way, Rathfinny is all about the wine, and tours reveal its breathtaking scale.
There is also the Rathfinny trail, a well-marked 30-minute route around the estate – keep an eye out for skylarks, hares and Adonis blue butterflies.
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Back at the barns, settle into a sofa in the lounge and warm yourself next to the wood-burning fire. In summer, enjoy a Seven Sisters gin and tonic (Rathfinny-produced) in the cobbled courtyard.
The USP: The 40-seater Winery Tasting Room opened last summer and attracts quite a crowd. The outdoor wraparound terrace is where you can enjoy a drink and admire the vines in the sun.
Comfort and style: A family room at Rathfinny, which features bunk beds
The rooms: Luxury meets functional in flint-walled bedrooms, with iron beds and pristine bedding, all softened by a posy of fresh flowers. Family rooms have bunk beds.
The food: The Flint Barns serves a cracking English breakfast, and Saturday suppers and Sunday lunches are very popular. For a foodie adventure, try the Winery Tasting Room’s tasting menu offering fish, meat and vegetarian options, including delicious morsels such as baked squash stuffed with chestnut, sage and ricotta risotto. Wine is not included but the list is not crazily expensive and the sparkling Sussex rosé is sublime.
The Rathfinny Estate, near Alfriston, East Sussex. B&B breaks from £100 for a double room. For more information visit rathfinnyestate.com.
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