The Annapolis Valley

Grapes have been grown in Nova Scotia since the 1600s, and wine has been an evolving, increasingly sophisticated part of the cultural landscape for almost 25 years. The soils and climate of the Annapolis Valley encourage wines with a strong sense of provenance, and as winemakers continue to gain a greater understanding of their land, the wines are only going to get better and better.

Though Chardonnay and Riesling are grown there, the warm, short growing season, combined with the direct cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the severe winters, have necessitated the cultivation of winter-hardy grapes. Hybrid varieties such as L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Lucie Kuhlmann and New York Muscat form the backbone of this region’s aromatic, fresh, characterful white wines. Pinot Noir is grown too, for use in the expressive sparkling wines for which Nova Scotia is becoming increasingly well-known.

Nova Scotia has one appellation, which is called Tidal Bay. It was initiated in 2012 and there are now 70 grape growers and more than 800 acres of grape vines.  Though each winery may develop their own unique take, strict rules of production and a rigorous evaluation process ensure that Tidal Bay wines reflect a distinct Nova Scotian aromatic character and a consistent flavour profile.

The Wineries of the Annapolis Valley

Below I have profiled the larger producers in the Annapolis Valley but there are a handful of others that I have not included here.

Avondale Sky Winery

Avondale Sky’s objective is to grow the best grapes possible in Nova Scotia.  They have one of the oldest vineyards in the province, but the winery itself is one of the newest.

Their retail shop is a restored 180-year-old former church that was transported 40 kilometres over the highest tides in the world.  They produce small lots of wine that are crafted with care.

Varietals

White: 

  • Geisenheim
  • L’Acadie
  • New York Muscat
  • Petite Milo
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Ontario Chardonnay and Riesling grapes are used in some of the wines

Red:

  • Baco Noir
  • Castel
  • DeChaunac
  • Léon Millot
  • Lucie Kuhlman
  • Maréchal Foch
  • Marquette
  • Pinot Noir

Benjamin Bridge Vineyards

Benjamin Bridge is Canada’s most acclaimed sparkling wine house, situated in Nova Scotia’s picturesque Gaspereau Valley. Its cool climate is moderated by the Bay of Fundy, promoting natural acidities and the ability for the grapes to remain on the vine for an extended period of time.  This is required for the classic Champagne varietals, which are critical to producing sparkling wines of richness, structure, and finesse.  The climate has a close resemblance to France’s Champagne region.

Benjamin Bridge is primarily a traditional method sparkling wine producer.  Their portfolio is also comprised of brisk, aromatic whites – wines that take full advantage of the same, unique climatic traits that produce world-class sparkling wines. Nova 7, coined “Nova Scotia’s iconic wine,” pioneered an effervescent, off-dry style in the province, crafted on a foundation of quintessential freshness.

Varietals

White:

  • Chardonnay
  • Geisenheim
  • L’Acadie
  • Muscat
  • Ortega
  • Riesling
  • Seyval
  • Vidal

Red

  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir

Blomidon Estate Winery

Blomidon is a boutique winery that crafts small lots of 100% Nova Scotian wines from estate-grown grapes.   They have won numerous national and international awards and acclaim for their wines

They are located in a scenic 10-hectare setting on the edge of the Minas Basin near Canning, a unique micro-climate for grape-growing.

Varietals

White:

  • Chardonnay
  • L’Acadie Blanc
  •  Seyval Blanc
  • New York Muscat
  • Riesling

Red:

  • Baco Noir
  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir

Gaspereau Vineyards

Gaspereau Vineyards is a boutique winery best known for outstanding Rieslings and elegant white and robust red wines. They have had award-winning, premium, estate-grown wines.

Varietals

White:

  • Chardonnay
  • New York Muscat
  • Riesling
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Vidal Blanc

Red:

  • Lucie Kuhlmann

Awards

  • Silver at 2018 The National Wine Awards of Canada
  • Double Gold at 2017 All Canadian Wine Championships
  • Silver at 2017 The National Wine Awards of Canada
  • Best in Class for Tidal Bays at 2017 Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards
  • Silver at 2015 Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards
  • Top Scoring for Tidal Bay at 2014 Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards
  • Silver at  2014 Wine Align’s National Wine Awards of Canada

Domaine de Grand Pré Winery

Domaine de Grand Pré is the oldest farm winery in Atlantic Canada. The Swiss-born Stutz family re-opened the doors to the public in 2000 displaying a European sensibility for quality and a passion for wine.

They grow specialty grapes that are developed for Nova Scotia’s specific climate and landscape. The result is an array of award-winning vintages.

Varietals

White:

  • L’Acadie Blanc
  • New York Muscat
  • Ortega
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Vidal Blanc

Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards

Lightfoot & Wolfville is a 4th generation family-farm.  They are certified organic (Ecocert) and biodynamic (Demeter).  Their focus is on classic Burgundian-inspired Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Rieslings and other German-styled white wines, as well as traditional method prestige cuvée sparkling wines.

Varietals

White:

  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Geisenheim-318
  • L’Acadie Blanc
  • Ortega
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Siegerrebe
  • Vidal

Red:

  • Frontenac Noir
  • Léon Millot
  • Marquette
  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir
  • Petite Pearl

Luckett Vineyards

Luckett Vineyards aims to capture the magic of Nova Scotia’s distinctive character through their wines. They are situated by the Bay of Fundy where they produce unique white wines.

Varietals

White:

  • L’Acadie
  • Osceola Muscat
  • Traminette
  • Ortega
  • Seyval
  • Vidal

Mercator Vineyards

Mercator Vineyards is distinctive for its authentic heritage and its timeless, relaxed and simple focus on old-world style wines.

Located just east of the town of Wolfville and adjacent to the Grand-Pré National Historic site, the vineyards are located on a bluff overlooking the historic Acadian dykelands where the Cornwallis River enters the tidal bay of the Minas Basin.

The winery is devoted entirely to growing exceptional grapes and making extraordinary limited-edition wines.

Varietals

White:

  • Chardonnay
  • L’Acadie
  • Léon Millot
  • Seyval
  • New York Muscat
  • Petite Milo

Red:

  • Marquette

Planters Ridge Winery

Planters Ridge is situated in a unique microclimate where it is bordered in the north by the basalt and granite of the North Mountain that rises from the shores of the Bay of Fundy. To the south it is sheltered from the cooler air of the Atlantic Ocean by South Mountain and Wolfville Ridge.

Planters Ridge is housed in a renovated 156-year-old timber frame barn that combines historical features with modern flourishes. This artisanal winery has invested in state-of-the-art equipment, producing highly acclaimed wines. With a focus on blends, they have developed a reputation for crafting aromatic whites and well-balanced, silky-smooth reds.

Varietals

White:

  • Frontenac Blanc
  • Frontenac Gris
  • L’Acadie
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • New York  Muscat
  • Seyval

Red:

  • Castel
  • Lucie Kuhlmann
  • Marquette
  • Pinot Noir

Sainte-Famille Wines

Sainte Famille Wines Ltd. is a small family owned vineyard and winery located on an original Acadian Village site known as “La Paroisse Sainte-Famille De Pisiquit” which was settled around 1685.  It has one of the warmest vineyard sites in Nova Scotia. The result is rich full bodied reds such as their premium Old Vines Marechal Foch, produced from the oldest vines in Nova Scotia. They have also produced whites of exceptional character such as the 2004 L’Acadie Blanc, which was chosen Best of Appellation.

Varietals

White:

  • Geisenheim #318
  • L’Acadie
  • Muscat
  • Riesling
  • Seyval
  • Siegfried

Red:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Marechal Foch.

Even though the Annapolis Valley produces more native grapes than Ontario and British Columbia, who produce more European varietals, the wines of Nova Scotia should not be discounted when considering quality and taste.  The vintners of Nova Scotia have made the most out of the harsher grape growing climate and produce some excellent wines.

If you ever travel to the Annapolis Valley, taking the time to explore some of these wineries would be well worth the time.

Sláinte mhaith

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