Tony Rickett - Dunham's Wharf Vineyard -Nov's Guest Speaker
Tony Rickett has been developing Dunham's Wharf Vineyard for seven years located in Gorham's Bluff on the Kingston Pennsula. With five acres of land where 3,000 grape vines grow in rows. Rickett has spent seven years planting a variety of grape vines on his property and tending to them until they are ready to pick, crush and turn into wine he says tastes "absolutely fabulous.Grapes, some white, some purple, and some shades in between, drip in bunches off the vines and provide a lunch for the hungry birds that visit the property. A loud bird sounds in the background and Rickett explains that it is a sound-machine used to scare off the vultures. His love of fine wine inspired him to grow wine grapes - a challenge he says has been tackled by few, if any, on the Kingston Peninsula. "I hope people get encouraged to say it can be done and try it," Rickett said. He explained that the climate on the peninsula teeters on the edge of being suitable to grow wine grapes. With the large amounts of rainfall, he said this summer has not been great for the crop. But the way his property gradually slopes towards the river helps fend off frost for one to two weeks longer than other areas of the peninsula. Seven years ago he planted his first vines and has grown the crop steadily each year. He said vines take about five years to produce grapes. Each of the five acres of vines on his property produces one to two tonnes of grapes, half of which he shared with the raccoons and birds in the area. The grapes he grew last year were used to make about 100 bottles of wine. Rickett is not licensed to sell the wine and he makes no money off his efforts. It is a project he says he does because he loves it.Two years ago Rickett decided to take on a new project - growing hops. He said hops grow on vines and produce bunches of small cones that hang off the plants that wrap around stakes on the edges of his property. He said it grew about six inches a day - so fast he could watch it. "When you cut it (the cone) open it looks like yellow traffic paint," Rickett said. "It is what gives beer the aroma it has"They are used to flavour beer and the ultimate test for a brew master is to use fresh hops to make a beer." Rickett said he passed the hops he grew this year on to brew master Wendy Papadopoulos. She used them to make a beer called Indian Beach Nut Brown Ale that is being sold at the Big Tide Brewing Company in Saint John.