Novas Scotia's bucolic Annapolis Valley located an hour from Halifax is a wine lovers dream and Canada's up-and-coming award winning wine destination, housing several established wineries.
The Annapolis Valley is surrounded by the stunning vistas of the Bay of Fundy, which boasts the largest tides in the world at 16.5 meters high. The Valley is an agricultural delight with an abundance of bountiful apple and cherry orchards all throughout the region, as well as other fantastic locally grown produce. Tucked away in the Valley surrounded by dazzling views is the Gaspereau Valley, home to the Gaspereau River (named for the fish). It winds its way along, creating the perfect picturesque atmosphere to partake in the fabulous aromatic array of wines offered in this grape growing region. The Valley is surprisingly similar to Champagne France, having the ability to produce grapes with the perfect sugar and acid balance, which are used to create outstanding wines.
Wineries and Wine tours in Annapolis Valley
L'Acadie Winery is named after the flavourful grape that thrives in this region. L'Acadie is creating quite a name for itself and is certified organic, specializing in traditional methods for making sparkling wine. The Prestige Brut earned gold at the Canadian Wine Awards, and is being tasted by U.K. wine writers in London this May. Other must tastes are the Vintage Cuvée, a sparkling rosé. Wine tours are $5 and include a sampling of three wines.
Benjamin Bridge is a sparkling wine house renowned for its fine premium wines (méthode classique) and a reputation for producing only the highest quality, which has helped to raise the profile of Nova Scotia winemaking both in Canada and internationally. The vineyards are steeped in the history and heritage of a rich farming community. Benjamin Bridge wines are made using the classic grape varieties (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) hand picked and pressed in Champagne pressing cycles, thus creating pure magic. Must tastes are the Hit Nova 7 with a soft salmon hue, and Vero, a versatile still white. Private tours available on request.
Gaspereau Vineyards is one of Canada's top 25 wineries, located on what used to be an apple orchard. The vineyard flourishes on the ideal south facing slope. Gaspereau offers a wide array of limited edition top notch wines which you will have the opportunity to sample and enjoy at the complimentary wine bar. Free guided tours of the vineyards are offered every day, a wonderful personalized approach to the world of wines. Must tastes: Tidal Bay (the local wine appellation), the 2011 Muscat (the award-wining Icewine) and the unique Maple Wine synonymous with Canada and fermented in Maple Syrup. It is ideal with desert or for marinating salmon and salads.
Nova Scotia Wine Tours offers tours of the area, under the slogan "Driving You to do Grape Things". Have fun as you sip and savour your way through wineries and vineyards.
Places to Dine
No visit to the Annapolis Valley is complete without knowing where to stay and where to dine. You will be able to pair your new found fave wines with some of the local restaurants' culinary expertise.
Ten minutes from the vineyards is the comely town of Wolfville, which borders the Bay of Fundy, and allows for wonderful walks along the dykes. Take your time and experience the splendid views and energy of such a special place. In town you will find two of the latest hot spots to dine as well as lovely places to stay.
Front & Central, newly owned by Chef Dave Smart, is a classy yet casually intimate dining experience. Open for lunch and dinner daily, it offers superb dishes infused with local ingredients. The slow roasted Carrot Salad is exceptional, as is the Linguini Carbonara (made with huge pan-seared scallops from the nearby Nova Scotia town of Digby). Also, do not miss the Smoked Pork Belly in Ginger and Maple Juice. I am still dreaming about it.
The Privet House is fairly new to Wolfville, but is in no way new to the world of fine cuisine. It is owed by Chef Jamie Smye. The ambiance is truly inviting, with a wonderful contemporary charm. The Privet House offers lunch and dinner daily as well as weekend brunch. Utilizing local farmers' ingredients to create outstanding dishes is a guarantee. The Duck Spring Rolls, paired with a local white wine are fantastic, as is the Mongolian Beef Short Rib, which is served with Kim Chi. It left my palette tingling for more.
Where to Slumber
The Blomidon Inn is a quaint historic spot located right in downtown Wolfville. The Inn's restaurant has been featured in Wine Spectator Magazine for the past decade, and holds a WS Award of Excellence for the wine list.
The Old Orchard Inn, which locals refer to as "The Old O", has been a family operated business for over 40 years. With it's impeccable and friendly service, it offers you the feeling of being part of the family as soon as you walk through the doors. You can choose from standard rooms (which are quite spacious) in the main hotel or, during the peak summer months when the Annapolis Valley is abloom, you can try a cabin rental. There are several on the property. The Acadian Dining Room, with its grand stone fire place, rustic charm and panoramic view of the land and sea is a wonderful place to dine. Sunday brunch and the buffet are regional staples of the Old Orchard Inn. Families come from all around to enjoy the smorgasbord of fresh foods, the scrumptious breakfast and the vast selection of homemade desserts.