Government of New Brunswick

By Corey Robichaud
Summer Student Intern
Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries

When local winemaker and owner of Dunhams Run Estate Winery Tony Rickett planted his first grape field, he was an entrepreneur, agriculturalist and a wine lover at heart. Little did he know, his love of local wine would take him from wine vendor to winemaker and finally, member of New Brunswick’s growing cottage wine industry.

Rickett spent years as the owner of The Grape Vine Wine Bar, Atlantic Canada’s first wine bar, but it wasn’t enough for this wine-lover. Never too old to try new things, Rickett was ready to take his knowledge of agriculture, combine it with his love of wine, and try his hand at making his own brand of wine made from grapes he’d grow himself for family and friends to enjoy.

However, as he planted more and more vine fields, the harvest grew too large to crush off-site at a fellow winemaker’s crush yard, and that’s when was forced to make a life-altering decision.

“We were growing and they were growing and it ended up causing a kind of grid-lock and that’s when I knew I had to either sell my grapes or start a winery,” says Rickett. The end results was the creations Dunhams Run Estate Winery – named after the much loved dog of his daughter Brittney. Dunham spent his years running through Rickett’s grape fields. Every bottle of wine also bears an image of Dunham the dog in mid-sprint.

Rickett has already made a name for himself as the first New Brunswick winery to make sparkling wine using the traditional-method from the early 18th Century.

What makes traditional method sparkling wine unique is its secondary fermentation process which takes place within each individual corked bottle.

Once the grape juices have been mixed and finished fermenting inside a keg, the wine is then mixed with yeast and sugar which causes a second fermentation process. The bottles are then set neck-down into custom cut holes in a “riddling rack” which is specifically designed for making sparkling wine the traditional way.

Rickett’s custom made elm-wood riddling racks, crafted from the pews of an old church, hold the wine-bottles upside-down until the yeast and sugar carbonates the mixture.

After that, all that is left is everyone’s favorite part of sparkling wine - the decorking.

 “Once the chemical process is finished we submerge the neck into freezing cold water,” explains chief wine maker, Mike Meclashie. “Then when it’s time for the top to come off, a chunk of ice carrying all the yeast shoots out cleaning and clearing the wine.”

The Dunhams Run Estate Winery offers a variety of meads, ciders, and wines, as well as an expanding list of new beverages they hope to release in the new future, like their up-and-coming cizer - a fruit cider that you can add spices to such as nutmeg and ginger.

Events and activities at the Winery range from wine sampling, catered vineyard and winery tours, to regular Comedy Nights as well as their seasonal Big Pic & BBQ where visitors can gather to feast, drink and harvest grapes together.

For more information on Dunhams Run Estate Winery or to plan a visit go to: http://www.dunhamsrun.ca