The long-awaited boom in the Nova Scotia wine industry is finally happening. Some would say it has already happened and it would be hard to argue based on the industry's Fall Festival kick-off party last week.
Myself and a bunch of more important wine people, including NSLC execs and Winery Association of Nova Scotia representatives, gathered at the bustling Taboo Nightclub (did that really used to be the Attic? Wow.) on Grafton Street for a reception and tasting of the region's wines and cuisine. After an hour, the doors opened to the public who, for $35, could sample for a solid two hours.
The event, in its third year, heralds an upcoming two months of wine love all across the province. Its growth parallels the recent advances in the industry. Last year there were happenings at 35 venues and this year there are more than 40 planned---everything from sommelier-led tastings and winemaker dinners to cooking classes and grape stomps.
Jost Winery, the oldest continuously operating winery in the province, holds its 10th annual Charity Grape Stomp on September 20: Time to get purple, people.
Events are listed at winesofnovascotia.ca, but highlights include: Nova Scotia wine and food dinners at DesBarres Manor Inn in Guysborough; Grand Pre Chef's Night at Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown, featuring maple-inspired cuisine; the always-popular Gaspereau Vineyards' Food and Wine Festival; Taste Of Nova Scotia dinner at White Point Beach Resort; Sainte Famille Harvest Wine Fest; Jazz Night at Lane's Privateer's Inn in Liverpool; L'Acadie Vineyards' Winemaker's Dinner, with chef Michael Howell at Tempest in Wolfville, and the Fall Wine Festival Closing event at BEAR, chef Ray Bear's new Halifax restaurant.
Exciting things are happening in local wine these days, with the region moving quickly, if not racing, towards a target of 20 wineries by 2020. This fest is a perfect way to get up to speed. With recent openings of L'Acadie Vineyards, an organic winery that specializes in traditional-method sparkling wines (the same way Champagne is made), and the now sold-out release of Nova 7, an off-dry, aromatic bubbly from Benjamin Bridge, the province's wines are taking a new, decidedly fizzy direction. Jost is in the game, too, with its aptly named Prost, fashioned from L'Acadie grapes using CO2-gas injection.
Add these new products to the existing, and generally improving, table and dessert wines of Jost Vineyards, Domaine De Grand Pre, Sainte Famille Wines, Gaspereau Vineyards, Bear River Vineyards, Blomidon Estate Winery and Petite Riviere, and you have a wine route worth sipping along.
Most of these wineries were represented at the kick-off event, as were several of the area's best restaurants and food suppliers. VanDyk's blueberry juice was served in a "Blueberry Mimosa" with Jost Prost. Chives Canadian Bistro was there with wonderful sweetcorn and aged-cheddar fritters with red-pepper aioli. Fox Hill Cheese House, from Port Williams in the valley, had several cheeses on offer, including a savoury herb and garlic Gouda. Five Fishermen had decadently rich "creamed Old Growler cheese profiteroles" which went nicely with the Bear River Baco Noir/Marechal Foch blend being poured.
These refreshing wines and thoughtfully prepared food matches were just a taste of what the next two months---and the future---has in store for local wine lovers.