By: Peder Lehmann Larson
November 9, 2023
Flying in from London, Halifax is easily accessible, and Nova Scotia is such a lovely place to visit.
Beautiful, rugged coastlines, crazy good sea food and the super charming city of Halifax with its rich history, which you feel everywhere. Along the waterfront with its many monuments, the Public Gardens and the Citadel, which has been so crucial to the naval defense of the area. Halifax alone is worth visiting.
What is much less well known to most people, is just how interesting it is to explore Nova Scotian wine!
If Canadian wine is merely a bucket on the world-wide wine scene, Nova Scotian could be considered a drop in that bucket. The sheer size – or lack of such – makes it all the more exciting to learn more about. A few numbers to illustrate: In 2019, 638 Canada wineries produced 21 million cases of 12 bottles, only 211,000 of which were produced by Nova Scotia’s 19 wineries.
Nova Scotia, in the far east of Canada – actually in the Atlantic Ocean, rather than on the coast of it – is definitely the epitome of cool climate wine growing in Canada, and to this day it consists of 7 regions with the Annapolis Valley/Gaspereau/Avon River area being the most important with 10 wineries within 10 km. A total of 58 growers harvest grapes from a total of roughly 1,500 ha under vine.
People tend to think of Nova Scotia as an extremely northerly location on the cusp of growing wine, but in fact it is located just a bit farther north than Bordeaux at 45º latitude – yet with a completely different climate – and the entire region is surrounded by the Atlantic with the moderating (warming) effects of the Gulf Stream.
A highly important climatic factor is the tides with Bay of Fundy having the world’s biggest tidal shifts at as much as 16 meters, shifts which bring in cool summer breezes and leaves large bodies of water unfrozen during winter. Both factors help moderate the climate and aids wine growing in Nova Scotia.
Vineyards are never more than 20 km away from the ocean and are planted on ancient seabed soils. The soils are predominantly formed and shaped by glacial movements.
To fully understand Nova Scotia and its wine sector, you first need to know about the Acadians.
The Acadians were initially 70 Frenchmen from La Rochelle in Western France, who set sail way back in 1604 to arrive at Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia, or Acadie, as they called the area, in 1605. Within a few years, the Acadians took on growing vines, either from Vitis vinifera which they brought with them from Europe or from Vitis labrusca and Vitis riparia cultivars.