Today, I am celebrating the first anniversary of my arrival to Nova Scotia. Last year on December 7th,Nova Scotia welcomed us in our new address and since then, as well as being a part of the wine sector, I have been discovering the landscape, the culture, the cuisine and everything that comes with it. In this article, I’ve tried to summarize this year with all the highlights from a wine lover point of view. I hope this will be a guide for those of you who are interested to visit here and be a wine tourist in Nova Scotia.
A General Look
Here is just a small introduction of wine production of Nova Scotia before we start. The commercial wine industry in Nova Scotia started in early 1980s, although there is a longer history of grape growing dating back to 1600s. In Nova Scotia, the main grape varieties produced in the region are hybrids, which are widely known by the local market, such as L’Acadie blanc, New York Muscat, Leon Millot, Marechal Foch, Baco Noir etc. However, there is also a tendency to produce Vitis vinifera, and there are already successful results of this tendency with the grapes as Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and some others. Tidal Bay is a type of blend of white wine, which is being 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 is also very exciting to taste the sparkling wines of the region, made with traditional method. Although it’s not the main wine type of the region, ice wine is also being produced, with a perfect balance thanks to the cool climate grapes which contain high acidity.
A Deeper Look to the Wineries
The main wine producer 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.
I had chance to visit Domaine de Grand Pré, Lightfoot & Wolfville and Blomidon Estate Winery in Annapolis Valley; Luckett Vineyards, L’Acadie Vineyards and Benjamin Bridge in Gaspereau Valley. And I am hoping to visit more wineries of the region in future. Here, I am sharing my first impressions about the wineries that I’ve visited:
Domaine de Grand Pré: It’s a boutique winery which produces a wide range of varietals that are adapted to Nova Scotia. In this winery, there is also a restaurant called Le Caveau, where they serve dishes made with local products. I’ve been there once and had a Nova Scotia Rabbit served with seasonal vegetables and paired with a glass of their Maréchal Foch. In one of the tastings that I’ve attended I had chance to taste a bottle of Maréchal Foch from 1999, aged in bottle in their cellar. It was a very nice surprise to see how well this variety can be aged.
Lightfoot & Wolfville: It’s a winery that respects nature by applying biodynamic and organic practices in most of 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 my favorite Pinot Noir of the region, called Ancienne. It truly reflects the terroir of Annapolis Valley. Last Christmas I’ve enjoyed the vintage 2014 and I am hoping to enjoy 2015 in the upcoming one.
Blomidon Estate Winery: It is located right on Minas Basin with an absolutely beautiful view. I’ve tasted their sparkling wine made with L’Acadie Blanc, called Cuvée L’Acadie, very good company of local seafood with its light and crisp body. My fav wine of this winery is their Unoaked Chardonnay, they made a great job to reveal the primary aromas of this elegant grape variety.
Luckett Vineyards: This winery is owned by Pete Luckett, a famous person for food and wine sector of Maritimes, originally from England. That’s why you can find a red telephone box in the middle of the vineyard, and it’s possible to make calls to all North America for free. Moreover, there is a restaurant and a small shop for deli products in the facility, absolutely worth to visit.
L’Acadie Vineyards: It’s famous with its traditional method sparkling wines. One of my favourite Nova Scotia sparkling wines is their Prestige Brut 2010. I Liked it so much that it actually made me write the article called “Learning from a Variety” back in May, you can read it for further information about this wine and L’Acadie blanc variety in general.
Benjamin Bridge: It’s 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 varities as well as showing the potential for the world-wide known varietals.
Grapes that Opened my Mind
I was lucky enough to attend some frequently held tastings to know all the wines that are produced locally. I’ve tasted many wines from Vitis Vinifera as well as many from hybrids. One very important thing that I’ve learned this year from Nova Scotia is to give some space in my glass to wines made of hybrid grapes, which I didn’t know before. That definitely opened a new page on my tasting experiences so far. For more information about hybrid grapes, you can read my article called “Veraison in Nova Scotia“.
Nova Scotia Cuisine
Of course, Nova Scotia wines are to be paired with the local food. Nova Scotia is a very good place to enjoy 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…
Full of Events
Throughout the year, there were many different wine and food related events that are frequently held in Halifax, as well as in the valley. Last year, I was able to attend couple of them, including:
- Nova Scotia Ice Wine Festival, where I’ve tasted many local wines, not only ice wine. They’ve also served some appetizers and oysters to pair with the wines.
- 12 Tides, where I had the chance to taste all the 12 Tidal Bays produced in Nova Scotia in 2016 and paired them with dishes prepared by local restaurants.
- Halifax Oyster Fest, where I’ve tasted many different varieties of oysters grown in Atlantic Canada and surprised by how all the oysters have different taste and texture depending 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. I had chance to go around and visit many of the places such as Blomidon Provincial Park, Miner’s Marsh, Lunenburg, Mahone bay, Carter’s beach, Cape Split, Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound… (I probably have to write another article to introduce each of them with more details.) Of course everywhere I go, I go with my glass of wine to be enjoyed.
All in all, wine lovers, this is the lovely wine region of Canada that I’ve been living and I suggest everyone to come to discover the taste of a Maritime Province. And don’t forget to say me hi on your way to the Annapolis valley!
All images © 2017 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.