Prior to travelling to the Maritime provinces of Canada, I had no idea that there was a wine-producing area there. The Canadian Okanagan and Niagra wine regions are well known and I assumed were the only major grape-growing in the country. While researching things to do in Nova Scotia, however, I learned of the blossoming East Coast wine production and culinary county of the Annapolis Valley. Located on the Bay of Fundy facing side of the Nova Scotia, and only an hour drive from Halifax is the fertile Annapolis Valley. Every year, more vineyards, cideries, craft breweries, and high-end restaurants sprout up in this area, making it Eastern Canada best-kept wine secret.
I couldn’t miss the chance to explore the area and taste the crisp, bright, coastal wines, so I rented a car and booked an Air B&B in Wolfville, a beautiful town close to several Vineyards. Due to the short growing season and cooler climate, white wines are more popular in this region, but there are a few noteworthy roses and reds as well. The signature wine of the region is the Tidal Bay appellation, which is a blended white that is fresh, crisp and aromatic. It is described as Nova Scotia in a glass, pairing perfectly with Seafood and coastal views. I had to try it and was not disappointed.
Vineyards to visit on your Nova Scotia wine tour;
Gaspereau Vineyards is a lovely place to start your Nova Scotia wine tour. The vineyard is easy to get to from Wolfville and the staff are very friendly. They offer three different types of tastings flights which include; a ‘create your own’ three wine samples from their own vineyard, a three wine Tidal Bay tasting with a variety of blends from their sister vintners, as well as a dessert wine selection which comes in chocolate cups.
I tried the Tidal Bay wine sampler and was very impressed with the wines. These off-dry white blends are a combination of various wines including Riesling and Ortega, as well as the other varietals and pair very well with seafood. They are crisp, dry, with nice citrus fruit notes on the nose.
La Acadia is just up the road from Gaspereau and another recommended place to stop. They specialize in sparkling wines and I recommend trying the sparkling rose. As someone who almost never likes rose (or dry sparkling wines), this one was quite surprising. It’s quite dry but also much more light and crisp than many other varieties. Another wine to try is the red. Although Nova Scotia is much better suited for whites, their red has more body and flavor from blending partially dried grapes with fresh pressed (ripasso style). The result is much more flavor and richness to the wine, despite it being still quite light. Definitely worth a try for something a little different.
Luckett Vineyards is another recommended stop along the route and offers a three wine flight of their daily selection or a five wine flight of your choice. I was able to taste the Ortega, Rosette and Leon Millot. The Rosette stood out, which is actually not a rose but a blush wine, combining both red and white wines in a nicely balanced combination. I found it flavorful without being too sweet, with soft strawberry notes. Would be great patio weather wine! The vineyard also sells gourmet food products, such as meats and cheeses. The vineyard is well situated on a hill with a fantastic view over the valley and a patio restaurant which makes the perfect lunch spot. They cater to gluten free diets too.
My last vineyard stop was at the Domaine de Grand Pre. This well-established winery has an excellent tasting room and gift shop. I quite enjoyed the Tidal Bay selection and was pleasantly surprised by the Castel red wine. Although not very full bodied, it had spice notes similar to a Syrah or Cabernet, while remaining unique to the valley. This is quite a distinct varietal and not commonly found in other regions.
The Vineyard is also home to the La Caveau restaurant, which offers some of the nicest fine dining in the entire area.
Annapolis Cider Company
Located right in Wolfville is the Annapolis Cider Company, which crafts some absolutely excellent ciders. I did the tasting flight, which offers four distinct ciders. Starting with their most crisp and dry cider and increasing in sweetness, then ending with their unique and delicious Earl Blue cider. I can’t say enough about how good it is. As a cider lover, I have tried dozens and this might be the best cider I have ever tasted. Combining local blueberries and local Earl Grey tea, this cider is flavourful and not too sweet. A must try!
I had an incredible time tour through Nova Scotia’s Annapolis wine region. The wines were approachable and easy drinking, and the staff were friendly and down to earth. I would highly recommend visiting before the word gets out.