A Grape Adventure in Nova Scotia
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Nova Scotia is undergoing an explosion in wine tourism, thanks to 20 wineries that are gaining international acclaim. More than ever, tourists are visiting Nova Scotia wineries. In 2017, wine tourism contributed almost $218 million dollars to the economy of the province. This is significant in a province with a population of barely 950,000.
Nova Scotia has the climate and terroir to produce excellent sparkling wines and whites, but there are also excellent reds and fabulous dessert wines. Many of these wineries are located only one hour’s drive from Halifax, in the Annapolis Valley near Wolfville and GrandPré. A carefree way to tour wineries and enjoy sampling without the worry of driving is to hop on the “Magic Winery Bus”, which runs on weekends from June til mid-October.
4 Nova Scotia Wineries You Have to Visit
Luckett Vineyards has a hilltop location that overlooks Minas Basin and famous MountBlomidon, home of the mythical Glooskap. They produce a wide range of wines, including the popular TidalBay. But their best seller is PhoneBoxRed, a full-bodied red that is crafted using a little “apassimento”(grape-drying) technique to develop concentrated flavours. I spent a delightful morning with their winemaker, Mike Mainguy, who introduced me to several of their excellent wines. Favourites? Their PhoneBoxWhite is mouthwatering and aromatic, showing orange blossoms, rose and spicy notes. I also liked “Rosetta”, a crisp, refreshing Rosé.
The colourful tasting bar and wine shop reflects owner Pete Luckett's life as a green-grocer. Olive oil, colourful Spanish ceramic dishes and local Nova Scotia cheese are for sale alongside their wines. Their Crush Pad Bistro is a great spot for lunch or dinner with stunning views of the vineyards and the tides in the background. There's a whimsical red British phone box sitting amidst the vineyards and it works! Luckett Vineyards also hosts corporate events and weddings.
Luckett Vineyards Tidal Bay Chocolate Potato Chips Dom. Grand Pré Pomme D'Or
Domaine de Grand Pré is located on the outskirts of beautiful Grand Pré, in the heart of the Annapolis Valley. Set on a hilltop overlooking the Acadian dykes built in the 1700’s, in a region that is a UNESCO #WorldHeritageSite, with majestic Mount Blomidon beyond, you are literally viewing history as you stroll the grounds @DomainedeGrandPré. Their winery makes a wide range of reds, whites and dessert wines, including the award-winning Pomme d'Or with its mouth-watering baked apple, apricot and caramel flavours. Sip and sample at your leisure in their wine bar. It's worth it to take time for a meal at Le Caveau, their on-site gourmet restaurant. Whether you’re in the mood for an intimate dinner or a special celebration, this spot is a must during a visit to the region. The chef and his team focus on local Nova Scotia specialties, such as home-made pasta topped with fresh lobster. Their hilltop pergola is also available for wedding parties and special events.
Planters Ridge Winery is located in scenic Port Williams in a renovated 150-year-old timber frame barn with a strong historical connection. The owner bought the property from the original family who received a land grant in the 1800’s. Wherever possible, beams and materials of the original barn have been re-purposed and the wine cellar has the original two-foot stone walls. They specialize in varietals that are naturally suited to the unique terroir of the Annapolis Valley to achieve wines with a true sense of place. Open year round with tastings and educational food and wine events. Tidal Bay is currently their biggest seller and their Riesling, produced using a Mosel clone, often sells out.
No visit to Nova Scotia’s wine region is complete without a stop at Benjamin Bridge Winery. Benjamin Bridge is a complete success story, having put Nova Scotia wine on the world map with their Nova 7 and their sparkling wines, which Tony Aspler described as “quite simply, the best Canadian sparkling wines I have tasted”. Agreed! I also recommend their crisp CabFrancRosé and their delicate Riesling. You can try them all at their tasting bar and pick your own favourite!
Sampling wine works up quite an appetite.
Nothing is tastier than artisanal cheese or
delicious homemade gelato on a summer day. Luckily, Foxhill Cheese House is located less than a five-minute drive from Planters Ridge Winery. Stop in for a selection of cheeses and yoghurt products, made using milk from their own cows (Jerseys for cheese and Holsteins for milk, in case you wondered). They are the only privatized independent #cheesemaker in Atlantic Canada. They plant the seed - that grows into grass - that feeds the cows - that produce the cheese and gelato that are so tasty. They even breed their own cows. It’s the circle of life!
Looking for a bite to eat? Drop in to the #PortPub for a menu that includes local specialties such as Digby scallops in bacon soup (to die for) and blueberry lemonade. Enjoy a leisurely lunch as you watch the tides on the Cornwallis River just outside the pub windows. #SeaLevelBrewing is located next door.
Digby Scallops at the Port Pub
Nova Scotia offers so much for #foodies and #winelovers. Indulge your senses with great wines, fresh seafood and local produce, surrounded by history and spectacular scenery. A friendly Nova Scotia welcome is waiting for you!
Jane Staples - Wine, Food & Travel Writer, Accredited Sommelier
Photos, Jane Staples