There is a lot to discover in Nova Scotia for wine lovers. Local wineries and unique vineyards blend together with the landscape, the culture, the cuisine and everything that comes with it. In this article, you will find all the highlights from a wine lover point of view. This will be your guide for visiting Nova Scotia and being a wine tourist.
Wines of Nova Scotia
Let’s start with an introduction to wine growing in Nova Scotia. The commercial wine industry in Nova Scotia started in the early 1980s, although there is a longer history of grape growing dating back to the 1600s. In Nova Scotia, the main grape varieties produced in the region are French American hybrids, which are widely known by the local market. L’Acadie blanc, New York Muscat, Leon Millot, Marechal Foch, Baco Noir are the main ones, but there are even more. In recent years, the interest to grow Vitis vinifera has increased, and there are already successful results of this tendency with the grapes such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and some others. The wine style that stands out is a fresh low alcohol wine, produced with local white grapes. This style created the first appellation of North America, Tidal Bay. It’s been produced since 2012 with the idea of creating an appellation that would express the region’s characteristics with 100% white grapes of the region. It’s also very exciting to taste the sparkling wines of the region, made with traditional method. Unlike the common belief that Canada produces only ice wine, in Nova Scotia it’s being produced only a small amount.
Wineries to Visit in Nova Scotia
The main wine growing parts of Nova Scotia are Annapolis valley, Gaspereau Valley, Avon River Valley, Bear River Valley, Northumberland Strait, LaHave River Valley and Bras D’or lakes. There are more than 20 wineries and over 70 grape growers in the region.
- Domaine de Grand Pré
A boutique winery producing a wide range of varieties adapted to Nova Scotia. In this winery, there is also a restaurant called Le Caveau, where they serve dishes made with local products. If you are planning a visit to the winery, and finish with a nice local meal paired with local food, that’s your address. Make sure you have a reservation. If you cannot decide which food you’ll choose, go with Nova Scotia rabbit served with seasonal vegetables and pair with a glass of their Maréchal Foch, which is a red hybrid with a good aging potential.
- Lightfoot & Wolfville
A winery that respects nature by applying biodynamic and organic practices in their vineyards. The winery opened a new retail facility last summer which has tasting, dining and event rooms with an enjoyable decoration and an absolutely fabulous view. It’s such an important and exciting initiative for the valley and the wine sector of Nova Scotia. Along with many successful labels, the winery produces a great Pinot Noir, called Ancienne. It truly reflects the terroir of Annapolis Valley.
- Blomidon Estate Winery
Located right on Minas Basin with an absolutely beautiful view. If you visit there make sure to taste their sparkling wine selection. Cuvée L’Acadie made from L’Acadie Blanc grapes is a very good company of local seafood with its light and crisp body. If you love Chardonnay, make sure to taste their Unoaked Chardonnay, you will have the chance to taste an interesting expression of this international variety in a cool climate and witness how it reveals its primary aromas elegantly.
- Luckett Vineyards
This winery is owned by Pete Luckett, originally from England, a very well known person in the food and wine sector of Maritime. Visiting the winery, you’ll find a red telephone box in the middle of the vineyard. It’s a trace of England in Nova Scotia. It’s also a real phone, you can make calls to all North America for free. (So, don’t try to call your friends in London) Moreover, there is a restaurant and a small shop for deli products in the facility, absolutely worth visiting.
- L’Acadie Vineyards
It’s a famous winery with its traditional method sparkling wines. All their wines are certified organic. The vast experience of the winemaker makes it possible for local varieties of Nova Scotia to display themselves around the bubbles. When you’re visiting the L’Acadie Vineyards, you might see a “small” dog. It’s a huge Newfoundland dog, who thinks it’s the smallest dog in the world – maybe not small but definitely so friendly.
- Benjamin Bridge
An internationally recognised winery, well-known with their quality sparkling wines. In their non-vintage and brut sparkling wines, they use both Vitis Vinifera and hybrids, while in their latest vintages of Brut Reserve (2010 and 2011), they keep it classic with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s a very good example of respecting the region with the local varieties as well as showing the potential for the world-wide known varieties.
What is really unique in the wine scenery of Nova Scotia is the versatility of the grape varieties. You can taste many wines from Vitis Vinifera as well as many from hybrids. This might be your chance to let Nova Scotia create some space in your glass for wines made of hybrid grapes. If you haven’t tasted hybrid wines this will open a new page on your tasting experiences. Just make sure you leave your prejudices at home, forget the out-of-date information about hybrid grapes not being able to make wine.
Nova Scotia Cuisine
On the coast of the Atlantic ocean, Nova Scotia wines are to be paired with the local food, especially to be enjoyed with the seafood. Lobsters, scallops, oysters, salmon… They are all abundant and delicious. Another very delicious food is the locally grown fruits and vegetables. There are farmers’ markets in many different places where you can buy them seasonally, and you can even pick as much as you need right from the farm: apple, blueberry, corn, pumpkin, squash, potato, kale…
Events for Wine Lovers
Throughout the year, there were many different wine and food related events that are frequently held in Halifax, as well as in the valley. Some of the must-go ones are as follows:
- Nova Scotia Ice Wine Festival, where you can taste many local wines, not only ice wine. You’ll also find delicious appetizers and oysters to pair with the wines.
- 12 Tides, where you’ll have the chance to taste all the twelve Tidal Bays produced in Nova Scotia and pair them with dishes prepared by local restaurants.
- Halifax Oyster Fest, where you can taste many different varieties of oysters grown in Atlantic Canada. You’ll be surprised by how all the oysters have different taste and texture depending on their variety and terroir, just like wine.
Nature is calling!
There are many breathtaking landscapes, beaches and hiking trails that one has to experience in Nova Scotia, also some one-of-its-kind experiences, such as seeing the world’s highest tides in The Bay of Fundy. Go around and find nature in Blomidon Provincial Park, Miner’s Marsh, Lunenburg, Mahone bay, Carter’s beach, Cape Split, Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound…
All in all, wine lovers, Nova Scotia is a lovely wine region of Canada with a lot to discover. It’s an exciting time for the province to reveal their potential and show the world all the fruits of the terroir, and the taste of a Maritime Province.
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