The Rising Tide of Local Wines

Vineyard in the Annapolis Valley

It’s been almost 40 years since the first couple of wineries in Nova Scotia started production. And if you are one of the people who tried these early vintages and made up your mind that locally produced wines were second rate, oh how times have changed.
Imagine a brand new industry, in a province with a cooler climate and short growing season. The reality is that many familiar varieties of grapes couldn’t grow here, so our winemakers had to get creative. They had to experiment with new varietals, and like any new industry, there were hits and misses. Perhaps early Nova Scotia wine was just ahead of its time, introducing new flavours that people weren’t used to. Whatever the case may be, that early experimentation and creativity grew more than grapes, it grew knowledge and experience within our wine industry. Slowly, but surely Nova Scotia winemakers refined and mastered their techniques, using our unique cool climate to their advantage to grow grapes that retain their high acidity resulting in aromatic, crisp whites that can’t be produced anywhere else in the world. And the early “table wine” reds have been replaced by medium and full bodied reds expertly crafted using lesser-known, but amazing grapes including Marchel Foch, Léon Millot, Lucie Kuhlmann and Baco Noir.
In the last 10 years, the Nova Scotia wine industry has undergone a revolution, fuelled by explosive growth in both the number of wineries, now at 20, and the quality and variety of wines being produced here including red, white, rose, icewine and other fruit wines. These wines aren’t just impressing locals, they’re earning national and international acclaim from chefs and leading wine writers including Tony Aspler, who recently toured the province and writes that we are about to embark on “the golden age of Nova Scotia wine.” There are also numerous examples of Nova Scotia wineries creating innovative and interesting wines. Buried Cab from Luckett Vineyards, is buried eight feet underground, aged for 13 months and bottled unfiltered, creating a uniquely earthy product. Benjamin Bridge Winery in the Annapolis Valley is creating amazing sparkling wines such as their Brut Reserve, which stands up against the best Champagnes in the world.
Another innovative case in point is Tidal Bay. Launched in 2012 by the Winery Association of Nova Scotia and its member wineries, this premium, crisp white is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia. Just like France has Bordeaux and Champagne, we now have Tidal Bay. And we’re the only place in the world that can produce it, because as we all know, there’s no other place in the world like Nova Scotia. Tidal Bay must be made following strict standards and must contain 100% Nova Scotian grown grapes.  Although all producers follow the standards, each winery’s Tidal Bay is slightly different and reflective of the individual wineries and their winemakers. Of course, a wine developed to showcase the unique characteristics of our cool climate and ocean breezes matches perfectly with the local seafood we’re also famous for.
Flat out, if you haven’t given Nova Scotia wines a try, now’s the time. And there’s no better place to start than with a Tidal Bay. You can find them at your local NSLC or at the following Winery Association of Nova Scotia member wineries.
Annapolis Highland Vineyards
Avondale Sky Winery
Benjamin Bridge
Blomidon Estate Winery
Domain de Grand Pré
Gaspereau Vineyards
Jost Vineyards
Luckett Vineyards
Planters Ridge
Saint-Famille Wines
Here’s one final thought. If we’ve piqued your interest in Nova Scotia wines, why not make an adventure out of trying them? Take a wine tasting tour. There are a number of companies offering great day trips where you can visit numerous local wineries and sample their amazing creations. Check out these tour operators.
Uncork Nova Scotia
Grape Escapes
Wolfville Magic Winery Bus