I recently travelled to Nova Scotia to visit some “old” friends
and to partake of the pleasures of sea and coast. Not much has changed
here over the years except for better roads and possibly better shopping
opportunities. Small-town Nova Scotia resembles small towns elsewhere in Canada with 'McBrutals',
'Timmies' and a host of other chain businesses. What does make it
different, apart from the people, is the effect of the sea on everything from climate to
The province has a small market of less than a million people
and the “hub” of the Maritime Provinces seems to be migrating north-west
from Halifax to Moncton. Even the Canadian Football League has chosen
Moncton as the site of the first CFL game (exhibition) down east in 2010.
Nevertheless, the area and the people are more laid back and tend to
take things as they come. This includes rain and fog. I can’t believe
the number of Nova Scotians who either don’t own or wear raincoats
during bad weather. Maybe put it down to their optimism – wait five
minutes and things will change. With over 190 days of fog per year in
Halifax and Yarmouth, you’ve got to look on the positive side.
This includes trying to ripen grapes in a less than ideal climate for
For the first time I can honestly say I tasted some native Nova Scotia
wines that had merit (and I don’t mean the "Cellared in Canada"
subterfuge tax revenue stuff that the LCBO masquerades as local).
For the past twenty-five years or so Nova Scotia has been served in the
main by Jost Vineyards on the Malagash Penninsula and
Domaine de Grand
Pré in the Minas Basin section of the Annapolis Valley. Not many of
their wines made it to Ontario.
Most of the current buzz in the Nova Scotia Wine Industry is centered on
the Gaspereau Valley just south over the hill from the Acadia University
town of Wolfville.
In a short time (7 years),
Gaspereau Vineyards (owned by Jost),
Vineyards and Benjamin Bridge Vineyards have located mostly on a south
facing ridge which produces higher temperatures than other vineyards
closer to the Bay of Fundy. There are the usual hybrids here (l’Acadie
Blanc, Seyval Blanc and
Marechal Foch, etc.) but also a representation
of vinifera like Riesling and
The most impressive efforts
came from the sparkling wines of these three new wineries, but all of
the wines were clean without the faults that were sometimes prevalent in
Wolfville will certainly become the “wine town” destination of Nova
Scotia with Muir Murray Estate and
Blomidon Estate joining the others in
close proximity on the Annapolis Valley side of the town. Although
technically outside the region, but close by,
Sainte Famille Wines has
been in business since planting their first vines in 1979.
Down Digby way, Bear River Vineyards has located in one of the most
picturesque valleys in Eastern Canada.
There are other vineyards and wineries not included here and more
planned. There seems to be a general optimism about the wine business
despite the last two poor growing seasons. Nova Scotia is world famous
for seafood, especially scallops and lobster. Visitors now have a local
product to enhance an already great experience.
Former Ottawa “high techie”
Bob Madill has made big news lately in the
United States wine press. Bob, who is part owner and General Manager of
Sheldrake Point Vineyards in New York State has received wine industry
serious recognition in the past month. First Sheldrake Point was named
Winery of the Year at the New York Wine and Food Classic competition.
Then, Wine and Spirits Magazine declared Sheldrake a
Top 100 Winery of
the year. Details are in the current special issue.
Bob’s career change about twelve years ago has put him at the top in
short order. Congratulations are due to this former Ottawa home
winemaker. You can see what Bob is up to at
winery is situated on the west shore of Cayuga Lake, about a 4 ½ hour
drive from Ottawa.