Nova Scotia is an unlikely wine region, its climate of cool summers, short growing season and bitterly cold winters makes it difficult to grow European vinifera. Prior to 2000, there were several wineries in the province making average wine but the development of some very hardy, cool climate hybrids and varietals, and an influx of visionary entrepreneurs with talented winemakers has seen an exponential growth over the past decade.
The Wines of Nova Scotia
Visitors will discover some unique new wines like Muscat, L'Acadie, Seyval, Ortega, Lucie Kuhlmann, Leon Millot, Castel, Marechal Foch, Marechal Joffre, Triomphe de L'Alsace and Baco Noir. These vines flourish in Nova Scotia's climate and make aromatic wines with a lively acidity that respond well to different fermentation approaches, ageing and blending. They also grow Vidal for outstanding ice wine. In 2012, the region launched its juried appellation wine, Tidal Bay, a white blend ideal for pairing with seafood. Every winery's Tidal Bay is unique and wonderful.
As viticulture techniques become more sophisticated, hardier varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot, Gamay and Riesling are being planted that can grow in Nova Scotia's climate.
Many Halifax restaurants offer Nova Scotia wines. Chives has local wine pairing suggestions for each item on its locavore menu. Elements on Hollis, another locavore restaurant at the Westin Nova Scotian hotel offers a choice of 27 local wines by the bottle or the glass, as well as local beer and spirits. Wine stores like Bishop's Cellar on the Halifax Waterfront offer a wide selection of Nova Scotian wines with tastings most Fridays. Many wineries have booths at the Halifax Seaport Market on Saturdays.
The Wine Capital of Nova Scotia
For the best wine touring experience, tourists should head to Wolfville "The Wine Capital of Nova Scotia". This charming university town, an hour from Halifax, is ringed with wineries that have excelled at national and international wine competitions.
Le Caveau is a fine restaurant located at Domaine de Grand Pré Winery
Among them, are two remarkable destination wineries Luckett Vineyard and Domaine de Grand Pré which have beautiful vistas, fascinating wine stores, gourmet dining and a wide range of wines to please all tastes from sparkling to icewine. Nearby Gaspereau Vineyards, selected as the 16th best winery in Canada by Wine Access Magazine, gives the best educational winery tour with tastings in the vineyard, crush pad, tank room and barrel cellar.
Two organic wineries, L'Acadie Vineyards and Benjamin Bridge specialize in traditional method sparkling wine. L'Acadie 's 2007 Prestige Brut was the only North American sparkling to win a medal at L'Effervescence du Monde in Dijon France in 2011 and has won numerous national and international awards since it opened. The Benjamin Bridge winery is not open to the public except by appointment, their contact details can be found on their website. Their aged Reserve '04 Brut LD sells at close to $100 a bottle. Their more affordable Nova 7, an aromatic sparkling rosé made in the Moscato d'Asti style, is now being sold across most of Canada to rave reviews.
Both these wineries were selected to have their sparklings poured this May at Rediscover Canadian Wines held at Canada House in London. A third winery, Blomidon Estate, which was also selected to pour its 2010 Estate Cuvée in London, is located about fifteen minutes further down the road in Canning.
Things to Do while in Nova Scotia
Of course there is more to do in the area besides wine touring. Grand Pré is a UNESCO Heritage site commemorating the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. The Annapolis Valley is prime agricultural land which is particularly interesting for foodies to visit. Gourmet seekers will enjoy visiting Tangled Gardens in Grand Pre, Noggins Corner Farm Market in Wolfville and Fox Hill Cheese near Canning.
You can also experience the Fundy tides - the highest tides in the world are an amazing spectacle of nature rising an around 16 metres every day - in several ways.
Thrill seekers love rafting the tidal bore on the Shubenacadie River, Photographers enjoy The Look Out beyond Canning and diners at The Port gastropub in Port Williams have a riverside seat at the tide turn as the empty river bed of the Cornwallis River fills to its banks within the span of a leisurely meal.
*Learn more about Visiting the Annapolis Valley
Wolfville has many beautiful accomodations like the historic Blomidon Inn
More Wineries to See and Wines to Try
Other Nova Scotian wine regions include the Avon River Valley near Windsor where Sainte Famille and Avondale Sky offer a selection of excellent wines. Jost Vineyards near Tattamagouche on the Northumberland Strait, is one of the original Nova Scotia wineries and the largest wine producer in the province.
Further down the Bay of Fundy coastline, is the historic town of Annapolis Royal with the nearby reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1605. Two wineries Annapolis Highlands and Bear River are in this area and its microclimate allows for the growing of European vinifera. They are also close to Digby renowned for its scallops and whale watching tours in the Bay of Fundy.
Within two hours of Halifax along the picturesque southeastern shore are Lunenburg County Winery and Muwin Estate Winery both specializing in fruit wine. Petite Rivière a biodynamic and organic winery on the La Havre River has a loyal following from the nearby sailing communities of Chester and Mahone Bay.
Photo credit main picture:The Planet D
Have you ever visited Nova Scotia? Please share with us your favourite experiences in this region in the comments section below.