“Wines of Nova Scotia?!?!… There’s a wine industry in Nova Scotia?” Those were my exact words when I was told about Nova Scotia’s numerous wineries. I was very surprised. However, as I explored the province, there were many factors that made the idea of a wine industry in Nova Scotia less surprising. One factor blew me away: I discovered that Nova Scotia lies on the same latitude as famous wine regions such as Bordeaux and the Rhone valley – I had no idea! In addition, Nova Scotia has substantial French and German communities which settled in this area centuries ago. In fact, French settlers started growing grapes for wine in Nova Scotia as far back as the 17th century. However, the harsh climate and rudimentary methods made the production of fine wines almost impossible and the wine industry disappeared from Nova Scotia for several centuries. In the 1980′s, bolstered by improvements in wine production methods and a better understanding of the soil and climate, the first vineyards for commercial wine production began to re-appear in Nova Scotia, starting with the Domaine de Grand Pré winery. In the past five years, the wine industry has grown in leaps and bounds, producing many award-winning whites and sparkling wines.
A wine tour of Nova Scotia
As I toured the province, I made it a point to stop at various vineyards, especially those in the Annapolis and Gaspereau Valleys. The unique soil and mesoclimates of Nova Scotia are ideal for the production of Nova Scotia’s signature grapes such as the crisp L’Acadie Blanc. I also enjoyed the smooth and aromatic New York Muscat. The wineries of Nova Scotia have also developed their unique appellation: Tidal Bay. This fresh, crisp white is now produced by a variety of vineyards and is the perfect pairing for the province’s delicious seafood. The province has also become famous for its sparkling wines (great as an aperitif or with oysters) and ice wines (as an aperitif).
Some of the wineries I visited included Domaine de Grand Pré, Luckett Vineyards and Lacadie Vineyards (the producer of award-winning sparkling white wines).
My favourite winery is also Nova Scotia’s oldest: Domaine de Grand Pré. Located in the verdant Annapolis Valley, it’s a beautiful vineyard that’s also home to a terrific restaurant (Le Caveau). I enjoyed a delicious lunch consisting of scallops and Atlantic haddock (fish & chips style). I highly recommend this vineyard for a lazy lunch, especially on a sunny day!
I’d not heard about Nova Scotia’s wines before my visit to the province. What I discovered certainly impressed me. Despite the challenging climate and soil, the locals, through laborious research and endless determination, have succeeded in producing unique award-winning wines. To me, this is simply one more great reason to visit Nova Scotia. One more tip: when choosing your Nova Scotian wines, look out for the ‘Wines of Nova Scotia’ label (a lobster claw holding a glass of wine). This label is a guarantee that the wine was 100% produced from locally-grown grapes. Visit the Winery Association of Nova Scotia for more information.
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