Mac's News from Nova Scotia, Summer 2009... and Bob Madill


Muir Murray Estate Winery, Wolfville, NS

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 economics.

The province has a small market of less than a millionWine Country Nova Scotia 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.

Gasperau_vineyards_upper_slopeNevertheless, 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 viticulture.

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 beenjost_vineyards_malagash_sign served in the main by Jost Vineyards on the Malagash Penninsula and Domaine de Grand Pr
é in the Minas Basin section of the Annapolis Valley. Not many of their wines made it to Ontario.

gaspereau_vineyards_NSMost 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), Gaspereauwnemaker_Gina_tasting Vineyards (owned by Jost), L’Acadie 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 Chardonnay. l'acadie_blanc_berriesThe 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 the past.

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.


Bob Madill

Bob Madill enjoying the fruits of his labourFormer 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; the winery is situated on the west shore of Cayuga Lake, about a 4 ½ hour drive from Ottawa.

Mac has returned to the Finger Lakes region and is currently tasting the late harvest offerings of the Alsace region of eastern France... and in his next report, he will share his findings.

Mac lunching at Allan Scott Winery, NZ

In vino veritas...

Mac MacDonald
Fall, 2009

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