Come on a journey to discover Nova Scotia wines
It’s very easy to get excited about Nova Scotia’s wine and culinary scene; the generous hospitality, the wealth of outstanding local ingredients – particularly seafood – and a whole province awaits with wines you may never have heard of!
You’ll meet people passionate about their province and their products, people ready to experiment and learn, and you may even start to identify a common thread in the wines of the region – what makes them Nova Scotia-esque? At the forefront is freshness, with a brightness, tension, and electric quality.
Learn new grapes and discover Nova Scotia’s first appellation, Tidal Bay, launched five years ago. There are 12 of these aromatic white wines, and while each winery is free to choose their blend, they must all be made from 100% Nova Scotia grown grapes such as L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Vidal, New York Muscat, Ortega and Riesling, and must be no more than 11% ABV.
Let’s start our journey to discover what’s cool about this region and what’s hot right now.
First stop is Luckett Vineyards in Wolfville, overlooking the Gaspereau Valley. Pete Luckett is a gregarious entrepreneur and media personality who founded Pete’s Frootique and Pete’s Fine Foods retail stores. He sold to Sobeys in 2015 to focus on his destination vineyard, which welcomes around 1,500 visitors each week. Luckett loves to dive into the deep end and is constantly challenging the status quo, trying techniques such as burying barrels 8 feet underground for 28 months for his regularly sold-out, limited-edition Buried White and Buried Red wines.
What’s cool: You can make toll-free calls anywhere in North America from the red British phone box in the middle of the vineyard.
What’s hot: Winemaker Mike Mainguy’s favourite wine, Black Cab, is a blend of Cabernet Foch, Castel, Lucie Kuhlmann, and Precoce, dried for three weeks to produce a dark and full-flavoured, powerful, full-bodied red wine.
Down the road in Wolfville, Bruce Elvert makes around 2,000 cases of wine a year, with a focus on sparkling wines.
Previously winemaker at the Okanagan Valley’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery, he released Nova Scotia’s first traditional method wine in in 2008, and now produces five different sparkling wines along with an organic cider.
What’s cool: L’Acadie was the first organic vineyard in Nova Scotia and the only organic winery to be certified.
What’s hot: Prestige Brut 2010, 100% L’Acadie grape, hand riddled and hand-disgorged after five years on its lees.
Further down the road lies Gaspereau Vineyards, part of Devonian Coast Wineries along with Jost and Mercator. Previously a dairy farm, a beef farm, and a farmers market, Hans Christian Jost bought the vineyards in 1996.
What’s cool: Nova Scotia born winemaker, Gina Haverstock, was going to become a doctor before taking a summer job at Jost, which changed her career.
What’s hot: L’Acadie Blanc 2015 is a refreshing, crisp wine with a hint of citrus and pear – perfect for pairing with your fish and chips.
Continuing on down the road you’ll come to Benjamin Bridge, founded by Gerry McConnell in 1999 and now run by twin daughters, Ashleigh and Devon McConnell. Head Winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers joined the team in 2008, and produced 200 cases of the Nova 7, the off-dry, crowd-pleasing, low alcohol sparkler. Now they produce 11,000 cases of Nova 7, along with 6 other sparkling wines and 7 still wines.
What’s cool: 2016 Nova 7 is the 10th anniversary of the wine. To celebrate this vintage, the wine is wild fermented and completely natural.
What’s hot: Cabernet Franc Rosé 2016 is really delicious, very crisp, dry and mouth-watering. Provençal in style, with flavours of strawberry and apple.
In the Annapolis Valley, you’ll find Planter’s Ridge Winery, originally a farm with a hay field and a 150 year-old house and barn, found by John McLarty and Lisa Law searching the internet for wineries for sale. After a full refurbishment, they planted their first grapes in 2011.
What’s cool: Planter’s Ridge also makes Nova Scotia’s first sparkling mead!
What’s hot: Quintessence Red is a fruity, juicy, medium bodied, dry red wine blend of 50% Lucie Kohlman with Castell, Marquette and Pinot Noir.
Heading back, Avondale Sky is a worthwhile detour. Housed in a beautifully refurbished old Anglican church, there is a wide selection of award-winning wines to sample and then you can stay for lunch at the newly opened D’Vine Morsels.
What’s cool: St. Matthews Church has been moved twice! Once around 150 years ago using oxen to move it 3 K from its original site, and again 42 K on a ferry from Walton to its current location.
What’s hot: Tidal Bay is a beautifully made blend of 50% L’Acadie with 25% Gewürztraminer, and 25% Vidal and three additional grapes. It’s a soft wine with stone fruit and melon flavours.