Nova Scotia has a long and rich tradition growing grapes for wine dating back to the 1600s, when we were one of the first areas to cultivate grapes in North America. And, of course, many Canadians know that Canada’s wine industry has enjoyed explosive growth and increasingly broad international recognition in recent years. It is worth considering just how rapidly our own indigenous wine industry has grown: from 13 wineries in 2011 to 20 wineries today.
Our wine regions
As Nova Scotia’s excellent and comprehensive wine website, Wines of Nova Scotia explains, Nova Scotia’s wine regions are located in the Annapolis Valley, Avon River Valley, Malagash Peninsula, LaHave River Valley, and Bear River Valley. Counting 800 acres under vine, our region’s soil and mesoclimates create an excellent environment for the production of character-rich high quality wines.
Nova Scotia is traditionally known for its aromatic white and sparkling wines, which leverage our cool Maritime climate and complement our abundant seafood. Our most widely recognized white variety is L’Acadie Blanc, one of the primary varietals in the Tidal Bay appellation wine. Other whites grown include Chardonnay, Riesling, Ortega and Seyval.
Nova Scotian wineries also produce well-rounded reds that are low in tannin levels, and typically feature hybrid grapes varietals. These include Lucie Kuhlmann, Baco Noir, Marechal Foch and Leon Millot, all of which grow well in our cooler climate. Wine experts say success with Pinot Noir in Nova Scotia demonstrates the potential for an increase in vinifera production in the coming years.
Putting our money where our mouth is
Funding for the Nova Scotia wine industry remains a provincial government priority. The province announced a $3.5 million investment last year, as part of a $12 million allocation set aside over four years through the Nova Scotia Vineyard and Wineries Investment Program.
‘This is probably one of the best investments the province has ever made in history,’ said agriculture minister Keith Colwell, when discussing the details of the 2016-2017 wine budget plan. The investment’s targets will include expanding grape growing, identifying and developing export markets, and working with the industry to establish a quality standards program.
The province’s wine industry accounted for $15.4 million in sales last year (2016) and $300,000 in exports. The target with the investment is to get exports to about 15 per cent of the value of total sales by about 2020.
Even more recently (March 16, 2017) Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced a special investment, in the amount of $487,960 over two years, to support a new wine research laboratory at Acadia University in Wolfville. The laboratory will be a hub of learning and innovation for food scientists, dietitians, biochemists, plant physiologists and producers of food and beverages.
The Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail
The Nova Scotia wine success story is not just about money and economic growth. It’s an aesthetic and culinary story, too. Many of the wineries in each of our major wine producing regions are exquisitely designed and built, located in spectacular surroundings, and feature attractive tasting facilities that rival anything you will find anywhere in the wine producing world. In fact, the Nova Scotia wine industry is an entrepreneurial, agricultural and culinary success story par excellence.
One of the best ways to discover and explore Nova Scotia is to follow the Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail. You can sample locally produced wines, beers and spirits from over 35 locations across Nova Scotia. From Yarmouth to Cape Breton, the trail weaves through stunning landscapes, heritage sites, beaches, farmlands and cities. If you decide to explore the Good Cheer Trail, allow me to offer you a word of warning. Please be sure to include a designated driver in your group. It’s easy to get carried away.
Dave Ritcey, The Ritcey Team, Scotia Wealth Management