Living in ‘Sunny Sussex’ has plenty of advantages – quick and easy access to the beach, beautiful walks across the South Downs, London’s second airport, Gatwick, and the bright lights of London can be reached within an hour or two. One thing soon to be added to this impressive list is that Sussex is soon to be home to the UK’s largest Vineyard, destined to be one of the biggest in Europe in fact. The Rathfinny Estate is a 400 acre site in Alfriston, East Sussex, (the equivalent of 400 football pitches), which is currently planting several grape varieties which will result in wines made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Riesling  for an initial vintage of 2014. The first vintage of Sparkling Wine will take a shade longer, 2016 and the first bottles for sale should be available in 2017.

The Rathfinny Estate, when fully operational, will endeavour to employ around 30 full time staff with an additional 200 workers required on a seasonal basis, harvesting over the summer and also pruning over the winter. The owners are hopeful of producing one million bottles a year and believe they will export up to 50% of these bottles with the remaining 50% remaining in the UK to be sold in British Supermarkets and to be offered in Restaurants, Hotels and Pubs.

This sort of investment, time and effort being literally ploughed into the UK Wine market can only be a good thing for the economy, but more specifically the UK Wine Industry. This will (and has) raised the profile of British Wine which is surely a good thing for everyone connected, and each day the UK seems to get a tad  nearer to maybe one day competing totally with our European wine neighbours, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The UK currently produces approximately three million bottles of wine each year and with ventures like the Rathfinny Estate this production is likely to be doubled by 2015.

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