Thursday, April 02, 2009

Nova Scotia the new Napa?

Grapes

It looks like Nova Scotia may be giving BC's Okanagan Valley a run for its loonies as its winning wine ways continues to escalate. As one of the four provinces of Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia is on tap to be home to 13 wineries in its five wine-growing regions by 2010: Annapolis Valley, Bear River Valley, LaHave River Valley, Malagash Peninsula and Marble Mountain in Cape Breton.

There are currently 11 wineries in Nova Scotia: L’Acadie Vineyards, Bear River Vineyards, Benjamin Bridge, Blomidon Estate Winery, Domaine de Grand Pré, Gaspereau Vineyards, Sainte-Famille Wines, Petite Riviere Vineyards, Jost Vineyards and Lunenburg County and Williamsdale Winery. The last two are producing fruit wines only

In spring '07, L’Acadie Vineyards (named after Nova Scotia’s signature white grape), opened as the province’s first organic winery. Scheduled to open May 1, 2009 the Muir Murray Estate Winery will offer wine tastings, wine making and grape-growing seminars. While the Benjamin Bridge Winery isn’t open for visitors yet, it's already producing wines (its Nova 7 sold out in a month). And with its near perfect growing conditions for sparking wines, it will debuts the first vintage of its Methode Classique in 2011. When the winery officially opens next year, it will be the second winery in Nova Scotia to have an on-site restaurant.

As one of the first areas to cultivate grapes in North America, Nova Scotia's long tradition of growing grapes goes back to the 1600's. Hybrids such as Seyval Blanc and New York Muscat and red hybrids like Marechal Foch and Baco Noir are attracting notice from experts and oenophiles, with local winemakers taking home 19 medals at the 2008 All Canadian Wine Championship.

In the Annapolis Valley, located an hour from Halifax, visitors can tour four wineries and sample wines: L’Acadie, Gaspereau and Muir Murray Estate and Domaine de Grand Pré (the latter serves lunch).

The Nova Scotia Fall Wine Festival is Sept. 7-Oct. 30 and offers more than 35 tastings, grape stomps, gourmet dinners, cooking classes and food pairing events. The festival website also has links to the wineries.

Grapes growing at Quails Gate in BC's Okanagan Valley
Photo by Sue Frause