Nova Scotia Wine – Where All Ships Rise With the Tide

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Do you wish you could have visited Napa before the crowds? How about Tuscany? Discover Nova Scotia wine before the crowds and learn what the locals have been raving about for years.

Did I get your attention by comparing Nova Scotia wine to Napa Valley? What if I said the views here were as beautiful as Tuscany? 

I’m not crazy but I do want to get people excited about this emerging wine region in Canada.

I swear I’m not biased. Sure I grew up here but when I was a child the Annapolis Valley Nova Scotia was known for its apples. But back then no one was talking about the valley as Canada’s wine country.

But where apples grow, grapes can also flourish. And just as I changed, so did agriculture in the Valley with new wineries opening up.

Throughout the years I’ve been buying Nova Scotia wine, even when European wine was cheaper and better.

I believed if I didn’t support them now, they’d never become better.

But I’m so pleased to say this is no longer a sacrifice. Nova Scotia wine is excellent.

There are now 20+ Nova Scotia wineries, but most of them are concentrated in the Annapolis valley, specifically the Wolfville/Gaspereau area.

And just like other wine regions, we have the views to go along with it. 

 

11 Reasons to Love Nova Scotia Wine

Drinking Nova Scotia Wine at Lightfoot and Wolfville.
In cooler weather Lightfoot & Wolfville has Nova Scotia tartan blankets.

If you’re planning to visit Nova Scotia, you MUST try our wine. With our cooler temperatures it really is a unique experience.

And I’ll be honest, it hasn’t always been good – but now it’s really great.

We have the same climate as the champagne region – and we also make traditional method sparkling.

We can’t call it Champagne because it’s not from the region, but we also won’t charge you the steep price along with it.

I wrote this guide because as a local I discovered so many interesting things that I did not know about wine in Nova Scotia.

If you’re a wine nerd like me, you’ll love this post.

 
The Pergola at Domaine de Grand Pre winery in Nova Scotia
The pergola at Domaine de Grand Pre is one of the prettiest spots to dine outdoors.

The Same Climate as the Champagne Region in France

Most people don’t see Canada as a legitimate wine region because…well winter.

But Nova Scotia is a cool climate wine region, and so while we can’t make big bold reds like California or Italy we can produces excellent sparkling wine.

And that’s because the Annapolis Valley has a similar climate and soil as the Champagne region in France.

Perhaps the world’s most famous appellation wine, while we can’t call it champagne, we are making it in the same traditional method. 

Today Nova Scotia is making some of the best traditional method sparkling wine in Canada.

So on those special occasions don’t spend the money on the Veuve Clicquot or Moët & Chandon.

Instead look to Benjamin Bridge or L’Acadie Vineyards – not only making incredible sparkling but it’s organic to boot.

I also love the cheekiness of Domaine de Grand Pré naming their sparkling Champlain. The explorer Samuel de Champlain mapped Nova Scotia during the first settlers.

Bottle of Gaspereau Vineyards Tidal Bay wine on a picnic table in Nova Scotia
Having a picnic dinner before live theatre around a bonfire at Two Planks and a Passion – Ross Creek Centre for the Arts

It Was the First Wine Region in All of North America

Forget Napa Valley, Texas Hill Country or Niagara, people were making wine in Nova Scotia long before all of them.

Some say it dates back to the 11th century with the Vikings, although no one can prove it.

But even if we skip ahead to the 17th century, Nova Scotia is still the oldest wine region in Canada and all of North America.

In fact, it started in the 1600s with the French Acadians planting vines from Bordeaux. Unfortunately part of our history includes their expulsion by the English settlers.

Many went to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and of course Louisiana where Acadian became Cajun.

Perhaps the English should have rethought this strategy because while they enjoyed wine, they didn’t know how to make it.

Needing some sort of alcoholic beverage they turned to what they knew – cider. 

   

And it turns out the Annapolis Valley is great for apples. So I grew up in an apple region and apple orchards were a common landscape. Cider ruled and wine was put on the backburner.

That started to change in the 1970s when a Californian came to Nova Scotia and believed he could make wine here.

While the rest of the world laughed at him he saw potential in this agricultural area – wine may seem swanky but really a vineyard is a farm.

But he knew he just needed the right grape. In Ontario they had failed to cultivate a grape because southern Ontario was too warm for too long. He saw potential and asked if he could try the grape in Nova Scotia.

It wasn’t an issue as it was not going to grow in Ontario and no one wanted the grape.

As it hadn’t been named yet he requested that it be called after our heritage –  L’Acadie Blanc.
 

 
Luckett Vineyard Tidal Bay wine from Nova Scotia
14 Nova Scotia wineries make Tidal Bay wine, only found in Nova Scotia.

Tidal Bay: The Only Appellation Wine in North America

Appellation wine is a swanky wine term to explain that you can only get a specific wine from a specific region.

It’s governed by a board and a protected name. Here are a few of the most famous:

  • Champagne
  • Chianti
  • Rioja

Most appellation wines have been around forever because you need to coordinate a region all agreeing on the rules.

This is likely why we haven’t appellation wines in the United States. Perhaps back in 1975 the 25 wineries could have agreed, but now there are over 400 wineries in Napa and Sonoma Countries.

Sometimes being small is good.

Launched in 2012, the regions wineries were able to agree on what the expression of Nova Scotia appellation wine. Tidal Bay reflects the cool climate region and pairs well with traditional Nova Scotian food.

Tidal Bay must abide by a set of standards and are approved each year by an independent blind tasting panel. The standards include:

  • Grapes must be 100 percent grown in Nova Scotia
  • Use a combination of the approved grape varieties
  • Must reflect distinct Nova Scotian flavour profile: lively fresh green fruit, dynamic acidity and characteristic minerality
  • Low in alcohol at no more than 11%

Currently, 14 Nova Scotia wineries making Tidal Bay.  Wineries are able to express their own unique vision for Tidal Bay, within a spectrum.

But some are sweeter, others have more minerality. In fact Gaspereau Vineyard doesn’t use the L’Acadie Blanc grape at all.

It’s great to take a wine tasting tour to see what your preference is, some are too sweet for my liking.
 

 
View of Cape Blomidon from Lightfoot & Wolfville winery in Nova Scotia
View of Cape Blomidon from Lightfoot & Wolfville. A symbolic view for locals when we’re away – we know we’re home when we see Blomidon.

New Grape Varietals: It’s Not all Merlot and Pinot Grigio Here

Everything is different in the Maritimes, from the food we eat to the grapes we grow. It is a cool climate wine region.

So we grow grapes that you’ll see in northern France, Germany and Switzerland. But here they still grow differently, and that’s because our land is different and we’re close to the water.
 

EASY RECIPE: Snow Crab Cakes

 
Weather in Nova Scotia can be unpredictably cold or wet. Wine in Nova Scotia requires grapes that are hardy and disease resistant.

Typically grape varietals in Nova Scotia are hybrids, but winemakers have also been experimenting with common grapes (vinifera).

You can find these varietals in Nova Scotia:

Vinifera

Vinifera sounds like a complicated wine term. But it simply refers to grapes that were originally from Europe or Asia. These are the OG grapes and are not hybrids.

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Chasselas
  • Chardonnay
  • Gamay Noir
  • Muscat
  • Pinot Noir
  • Pinot Gris
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc

Hybrids

  • Baco Noir
  • Cabernet Foch
  • Castel
  • Cayuga
  • Cayuga White
  • De Chaunac
  • Geisenheim 318
  • L’Acadie blanc
  • Leon Millot
  • Lucie Kuhlmann
  • New York Muscat
  • Maréchal Foch
  • Maréchal Joffre
  • Marquette
  • Mischurnitz
  • Ortega
  • Seyverni
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Triomphe d’Alsace
  • Vidal Blanc
 
Domaine de Grand Pre Vineyard in Nova Scotia
Domaine de Grand Pre Vineyard

 An Attitude to Create Rather than Replicate

We can be inspired by other regions and styles, but at the same time we have our own identity. – Ben Swetnam, Avondale Sky Winery

Across the board the one consistent message was that Nova Scotia wine isn’t trying to be something it’s not.

Wine here doesn’t try to recreate big reds of California or whites of New Zealand. Winemakers were looking at regions with similar climates to see what could grow well but then also creating a wine that reflected the region.

There’s lots of experimentation and it’s an exciting time to visit Nova Scotia. Staff at wineries are enthusiastic about small lot wines, sharing how one year was different from the last because of a late summer or early frost.  

And locals are supporting producers, making up a significant number of sales so that wineries are often selling out.

Although Nova Scotians may not be the most knowledgeable wine drinkers, this means they have fewer preconceived notions.

Nova Scotians aren’t stubborn about only drinking one type of wine, thet are open to new varietals.

Most importantly as an agricultural region Nova Scotians understand how weather affects everything.

Locals remember the frost last June, or that summer started late, which affects everything from strawberries to grapes. 

And in that way we’re not apologetic because you’re not getting what you expect somewhere else.

Nova Scotia wine simply expresses where it was produced.
 

 
Mercator Vineyard in Grand Pre Nova Scotia
Mercator has sparkling wine weekends? Yes please!

From Down Home to Upscale There’s a Winery for Everyone

The main Nova Scotia wine region is divided into: Annapolis Valley, Gaspereau Valley, South Shore, and the Malagash Peninsula. 

There are technically 20+ official wineries in Nova Scotia. But not all of them are producing wine from grapes as fruit wine is very popular as well.

While most wineries are organized through the Wine Association of Nova Scotia, it is a voluntary membership so the fruit wineries and smaller wineries are not members.

There are currently 19 members.

Each one has its own vibe and style in wine so it’s impossible for me to answer what is my favourite winery in Nova Scotia, or what is the best winery in Nova Scotia.

They all complement each other in that they are different. 

The best way is to decide for yourself. 

 
Avondale Sky Winery exterior, one of the most popular spots to drink wine in Nova Scotia.

Avondale Sky Winery

This Nova Scotian winery is not in the main Wolfville/Gaspereau winery hub but on the way from Halifax to the Annapolis Valley. It is well worth the drive just to see the building.

Avondale Sky is in the former St.Matthew’s church, which was built in 1837.

The Nova Scotia winery saved it from destruction. But it’s called the church that walked on water as they needed to transport it by floating it down the river.

It also one of my favourite restaurants in Nova Scotia. I loved the cherry tomato salad so much I asked for the recipe!

Winemaker Ben Swetnam spent time in Germany and returned to Canada to open Avondale Sky Winery. Speaking to him you get the immediate sense that he’s both modest and earnest.

His off-dry style that is the most popular with customers. Although he assures that they always have a classic Nova Scotian balance of acidity.

When I press him for a suggestion for a great wine that often is overlooked he suggests the Petite Milo as it has a flavour profile that is very different than other Nova Scotia grapes.

Other than the small lots, the wine is named after local points of interest to give a sense of place.

The best selling wine, Avondale Sky’s Tidal Bay focuses less on the muscat driven aromatic that some wineries lean toward. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, this is a great Tidal Bay for you. 

Winemaker Favourite: Blanc de Noir Extra Brut Reserve

Avondale Sky Winery
80 Avondale Cross Rd, Newport, Nova Scotia

 

Benjamin Bridge vineyards, it serves a very popular Nova Scotia wine called Nova 7.

Benjamin Bridge

Benjamin Bridge is a certified organic winery, but do not expect to find that certification on the labeling or boastfully on their website.

Nor do they find it necessary to chase wine competition accolades; instead, they let the wines speak for themselves.

I love that they also sell their popular Nova 7 and Pet Nat by the can, it shows that they can be serious but not stuffy in their approach to wine.

Buy wine online by emailing them to find out if they can ship to your address.

Most popular wine: Nova 7
Underappreciated wine: Riesling
Winemaker’s Favourite: Brut 2013

“It has this nutty factor. It was a drought driven year it wasn’t hot but it was dry in the middle of summer. It ripened in a different way.”

Benjamin Bridge

1966 White Rock Rd, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 
Blomidon Estate Winery in Canning Nova Scotia, people at table drinking Nova Scotia wine and eating charcuterie.
First stop on Uncork Tour is Blomidon Estate Winery patio for a tasting + charcuterie

Blomidon Estate

While this winery is outside the Gaspereau Wolfville hub I think it’s SO worth visiting if you have time.

As an estate winery, 100% of its grapes are grown on site. Located in Canning, it has a gorgeous view of the Minas Basin from its patio.

Winemaker Simon Rafuse says they’ve always favoured a drier style of Tidal Bay, mostly because “that’s what we like to drink!”

It’s a perfect patio wine with a blend of grapes (L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, NY Muscat) to craft a crisp, citrusy wine that’s lighter in alcohol and really fresh on the palate. 

Although it was sold out, I now have my eye on Blomidon as they produced Lambrusco wine this year. I have so many fond memories of eating salumi and drinking this sparkling red in Bologna Italy.

Sadly what gets imported to Nova Scotia is the sad sweet version of Lambrusco that no one drinks in Italy. So I’m patiently waiting for next year to try the local Lambrusco.

Winemakers Favourite: 2011 Brut Réserve.

“This wine really proved to me that our climate is perfect for traditional method sparkling wine. The grapes were just fantastic at the end of a long season, and after 6 years aging in the cellar, the wine is just singing. I love drinking it.”

Blomidon Estate
10318 NS-221, Canning, Nova Scotia

 
Charcuterie board at Le Caveau at Domaine de Grand Pre winery in Nova Scotia
One of the oldest wineries in Nova Scotia, it’s also home to Le Caveau, a fantastic restaurant with a house charcuterie program.

Domaine de Grand Pré

The oldest winery in Nova Scotia, it’s not so old as it’s only been a vineyard since 1976. It changed ownership for the third time in the mid-90s and is now owned by Hanspeter Stutz.

It’s another family-owned winery where members are hands-on, from his daughter Beatrice managing the tasting room to his son-in-law as the chef of the winery restaurant.

I visited Domaine de Grande Pre five times over six weeks and learned something new each time. But what impressed me most was my discussion with Chef Jason Lynch.

No doubt the food is some of the best in Nova Scotia, but I was most curious that he also produces a line of products – including a white hot sauce.

He explained that wineries in Nova Scotia are seasonal. This means most people who work in the Nova Scotia wine business aren’t employed all year round, and that can be difficult for many people.

So food production happens in the off season and so he’s able to keep some staff employed.

Often called the Grand Pre winery by locals, it has a beautiful outdoor dining area and is great to pop in for a glass of wine and a bite to each. 

Winemaker Jürg Stutz explained that his approach to Tidal Bay is to look at the signature aromatic component (i.e. Muscat, Ortega), the acidity (i.e. Vidal, Seyval), but also at the overall volumes that available from each variety.

Consistency is important and Stutz has used the same five grape varieties since the first vintage. 

Winemaker’s Favourite: Riesling

“I think we have the ideal climate here in Nova Scotia to produce world-class Rieslings and it certainly is one of my favourite varieties to work with and my favourite style of wine as well.”

Domaine de Grand Pré
11611 Highway 1, Grand Pré, Nova Scotia

 
Every time I’ve visited Gaspereau it’s rained so this photo is completely unfair. However winemaker Gina Haverstock gave me a tip that there is a red picnic table at the top of the vineyard with an amazing view. Next sunny day I’m hiking to the top to replace this photo.

Gaspereau Vineyards

A family favourite, I’ve visited Gaspereau many times over the years and it’s always a great time. Three kilometers from Wolfville, it’s in the heart of the gorgeous Gaspereau Valley. 

The vibe here is relaxed and friendly. The vineside patio menu is kid-friendly with pizza, sandwiches and gigantic decadent desserts. Saturday nights there is live music on the vineside patio.

And so when I met the winemaker Gina Haverstock, I wasn’t surprised that I liked her immediately. Much like the winery, it’s apparent that she’s serious about wine, but is also incredibly approachable.

She’s producing stellar Rieslings but also introducing guests to new wine only available in the winery, like White Rock, which is an experimental blend of seven, predominantly Estate-grown varietals.

People often ask me about the best part of my job and I always say it’s meeting people truly passionate about their work.

Gina is one of those people, her excitement and energy is infectious. And it extends to the staff you encounter at the vineyard.

For something fun, also try the Maple dessert wine from fermented maple syrup served in chocolate cups. It’s a nice after meal treat if you’re like me and prefer to pass on dessert.

Winemakers Favourite: Riesling
Most Popular: Tidal Bay

Gaspereau Vineyards
2239 White Rock Rd, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 

Two cyclists in Jost Vineyards, the largest Nova Scotia winery in Canada.

Jost Vineyards

I now regret not going to Jost. Growing up I had such a bad impression of Jost wine. And before this trip it wasn’t the first Nova Scotia wine I’d choose to drink.

But after speaking to the wine makers I have a new appreciation for the winery.

As the oldest winery consistently running in Nova Scotia, it did a lot of the heavy lifting. At that time it was a wine industry of one – Jost.

Unlike now where there are a group of winemakers who collaborate, Jost had to do it all on its own. And the wine isn’t the same as what I tasted back in the 90s.

But most importantly, across the board winemakers spoke to highly of Hans Wilhelm Jost. Many of them started at Jost whether it be a summer job or an internship.

When Avondale Sky was looking for a winemaker Hans called Ben Sweten’s family as he was working in Germany. And today they still look to him for advice.

It’s tough to be the trailblazer.

Jost Vineyards
48 Vintage Ln, Malagash, Nova Scotia

 

L’Acadie Vineyards

Winemaker Bruce Ewert not only owns the winery but his family live on the land. Originally from British Colombia, he has made wine all over Canada and finally settled in Nova Scotia.

A sparkling wine house, it’s one of Nova Scotia’s smallest wineries but Ewert has had a lot of influence on what we drink today. 

L’Acadie Vineyards was the first certified organic winery, since then many have followed. He also bucked convention by planting his vines facing northwest when everyone else was facing south.

But he was confident from previous experience and his desire to produce sparkling wine, that it was the right decision.

And he was right.

L’Acadie Vineyards was the first to produce traditional method sparkling wine (aka Champagne). Not only has it won national and international awards in France, but it inspired other Nova Scotia wineries that they could do it as well.

And while you’d think a winery focusing on sparkling wine would feel stuffy or pretentious, I found it to be the complete opposite.

The building is made from sustainable materials and geothermal heat pump. And staff don’t focus on the complex and tedious explanations of how to make sparkling wine, instead speak about the vineyard as farmland.

During my time there they shared stories of an eagles nest keeping rodents away and this year’s weather. 

Tucked in between Luckett Vineyards and Gaspereau, it’s a refreshing way to learn about sparkling wine.

L’Acadie Vineyards
310 Slayter Rd, Gaspereau, RR1, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 
Lightfoot and Wolfville tasting room in Nova Scotia. One of the newest wineries in Nova Scotia.

Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards

The newest winery in Nova Scotia, you cannot miss the vineyard driving through Wolfville as it is a gorgeous barn-style building. 

The Lightfoot family may be new to winemaking but they aren’t new to the area. They have farmed on the land for eight generations and were initially grape growers for other vineyards.

Finally they took the plunge and started making wine to much acclaim. The expression of Tidal Bay has no Muscat, and is very popular.

The tasting room is a modern, sleek interpretation of a loft barn with a long tasting bar, and comfortable couches to relax.

Outside there is a number of seating options from picnic tables at the entrance to the vineyard to Adirondack chairs around an outdoor fireplace. The view of Cape Blomidon is spectacular.

Not only is Lightfoot & Wolfville a certified organic winery using biodynamic agriculture practices in their vineyard. But also they are growing vegetables for the patio restaurant, which offers a kids menu, pizza and main dishes.

For those that are tired of wine (does that happen?) there’s also a cocktail menu with local spirits.

Most Popular: LW Rose, Sparkling Rose, Flora + Fauna the featured house wine

Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards
11143 Evangeline Trail, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 

Luckett Vineyards in Wolfville Nova Scotia with its iconic British red phone booth.

Luckett Vineyards

The most popular Nova Scotia winery, it’s also one of the larger producers in the Annapolis Valley.

Yet, it still feels like a family business. Luckett Vineyards is a great spot to spend an afternoon with a killer view. 

Family-owned and operated, not just in name. You’ll see family on site working.

With a British heritage there are lots of cute touches like the British phone box in the vineyard with free phone calls to anywhere in North America. The signature house wine is also called phone box red.

I really liked the Buried White, which is 8 feet underground for 28 months in Hungarian Oak barrels.

The Old Bill is a surprisingly robust red that is fantastic with the steak and mushroom pie served at its restaurant.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to chat and ask questions during a tasting I suggest arriving at 11am as it gets very busy.

Then head over to Crush Pad Bistro where they also make a seafood that’s as spectacular as the view.

Most Popular Wine:  Phone Box Red and Tidal Bay

Luckett Vineyards
1293 Grand Pré Rd, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 

Exterior Planters Ridge Nova Scotia winery

Planters Ridge

Originally from Ontario John McLarty and Lisa Law started a winery on this beautiful 7.5 acre farm in Port Williams in 2010. 

Its name reflects the region, and the tasting room is a a refurbished 150 year old barn. The historic farmland dates back to 1760 when it was granted to the New England Planter families after the Acadian Expulsion.

Wine at Planter’s Ridge is a bit different than other wine in the Annapolis Valley.

Winemaker John McLarty explains Planter’s Ridge wine is more “international Old World style, keeping the acidity lower so you don’t have to have a lot of residual sugar to balance the wine.

A prime example is Tidal Bay, our Tidal Bay is and has always been the lowest residual Tidal Bay in the province.”

Planter’s Ridge offers full tours from the vineyard to the winery to the barrel cellar.

There’s no intention of becoming a big winery, small and intimate experience. 

Most Popular Wine: Tidal Bay
Winemakers Suggestion: Chardonnay

Planter’s Ridge Winery
1441 Church St, Port Williams, Nova Scotia

 
Mercator Vineyards tasting room. A rustic chic design serving some of the best Nova Scotia wine.

Mercator Vineyards

One of the newest vineyards in Nova Scotia, it is quietly making a name for itself as the most stylish farmhouse you’ll ever visit.

The rustic chic tasting room is purposely small and quiet. There are no big groups or the bus stopping here.

The staff serving you wine don’t walk away while you’re tasting, instead they are close to answer questions without feeling rushed.

It’s a much more relaxed Nova Scotia wine experience. There is no restaurant but you can have a tasting with snacks, chocolate or splurge on a picnic lunch in the vineyard for only $25.

The winery also rents bicycles to explore the Harvest Moon Trail and surrounding region.

The cool sleek design doesn’t invite snobbery. This is all about the connection between the farm and the wine. Staff are knowledgeable, they’ll teach you about the wine without being tedious.

There’s a warmth that is similar to its sister winery, Gaspereau Vineyards. It’s clear that hospitality is important no matter what level of wine knowledge you have.

Oenophiles love this spot for their old school techniques like lee stirring that they try not to intervene so there’s native yeast/spontaneous fermentation. They do some apassimento style and carbonic maceration to bring out the best in the fruit.

The previous winemaker has departed but I was able to speak with Becca Griffin, the newly appointed winemaker.

Not a stranger to Mercator as she previously managed the vineyard and says she’s excited about the next step as “Since I’m primarily a grape grower…I want to follow my fruit right to the end.”

Most popular wine: Compass Rosé
Winemakers favourite: Upper Ridge Marquette and Sauvage Sur Lie

Mercator Vineyards
88 Dyke Rd, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
  
 

 

Sainte Famille Winery in Falmouth Nova Scotia's Tidal Bay wine on a barrel in their tasting room.

Sainte-Famille Wines

The second oldest winery in Nova Scotia, it’s a very popular spot for weddings and it’s easy to see why as it’s so scenic in Falmouth.

The winery is family owned and all of the wine is from Nova Scotia grapes with 95% are grown at the vineyard.

While the vineyard has won many awards, the most popular wines are its Tidal Bay and 2017 Wild Seyval with a wild ferment is on the sweeter side with notes of honey and crisp green apple.

The fortified red (think Port, but not from Portugal), called Kingston is very popular but you can only get it at the winery so another great reason to go.

They have a tasting room on site and offer daily tours at 11am-3pm. Open year round, just call ahead during the winter to ensure someone is at the door.

And for exciting news they have a new winemaker from Portugal. He previously worked in Ontario and has decided to now take on Nova Scotia.

A Portuguese winemakers take on Nova Scotia wine could be a very interesting perspective.

Saint-Famille Wines
11 Dudley Park Ln, Falmouth, Nova Scotia

Barbecue chicken pizza and white wine at Bent Ridge Winery in Nova Scotia
Bent Ridge is a small batch winery and pico brewery, located in one of Nova Scotia’s most popular u-pick orchards. They don’t have Tidal Bay but they do have great pizza.

Additional Wineries in Nova Scotia

There are 20+ Nova Scotia wineries. I visited the wineries that make Tidal Bay in the Annapolis Valley wine country. However there are so many more small winemakers in Nova Scotia.

While I didn’t have time to visit, I’ve included them on a map at the bottom of this post.

I’ve also included links here to reviews of the other wineries:

 
Winemaker Alex Morozov of Benjamin Bridge
Alex Morozov is (gasp) not a Maritimer, but jokes that he’s CFA (come from away). Yet he seems to have adapted well to Nova Scotia life and the spirit of collaboration amongst the winemakers.

Winemakers Who Collaborate Rather than Compete

I’ve often heard romantic stories of what Napa Valley was like in the 1970s before it blew up to become a commercial machine and everyone became competitive.

The wine industry has been cut throat for so many years I’m always suspicious when people try to feed me a story that everyone gets along and is collaborative.

But this is actually true in Nova Scotia.

Most Nova Scotia wine sells out before the year is over. One of the biggest challenges is actually keeping more of the bottles so they can let it age.

And that has created a unique bond amongst the vineyards as they aren’t competing with each other to survive.

While many of the winemakers are of the same generation, making it easier to relate, they also look to others who have more experience. Gaspereau Vineyard’s Gina Haverstock credits learning about sparkling from Hans Jost – with whom she once worked.

I wouldn’t have a sparkling program at all if it weren’t for connections at the other wineries – Ben Swetnam.

Avondale Sky winemaker Ben Swetnam shared that he reached out to Gina to learn more about making a sparkling wine and spent time at Domaine de Grand Pre and L’Acadie Vineyards.

The protocol for making sparkling came from Simon, the winemaker at Blomidon Estate Winery.

Moreover, Benjamin Bridge has loaned equipment they have outgrown so that Avondale Sky can produce sparkling wine.

Benjamin Bridge’s assistant winemaker Alex Morozov says he chats almost daily.

The day we chatted the group had been texting about how they were dealing with last night’s frost in the vineyards.

 
Magic Wine bus in Wolfville Nova Scotia Canada
Magic Wine bus runs Thursday through Sunday.

Nova Scotia Wine Tours

There’s a number of ways to explore Nova Scotia wine. There really is no ONE best way, it just depends on what kind of experience you want.

While you can do a wine tasting in Halifax, there’s nothing like having it on the vineyard where it was made.

Go North Tours

Small group tours under 10 people, I explored Tidal Bay wine from different wineries and learned so much. Laila North, the owner and guide has so much enthusiasm for Nova Scotia wine and shares the most interesting tidbits.

She also runs private tours and if you have a small group I highly recommend it. She knows her stuff and is really fun. Go North will pick you up from your hotel in Halifax for the tour.

Read More Reviews Here.

Magic Wine Bus

A hop-on-hop-off double decker bus that visits 5 wineries. It’s an extraordinarily affordable $50 if you don’t mind joining a bus of other people. The experience isn’t as intimate as a traditional tour but it can be a lot of fun.

Grape Escape Wine Tours

A larger tour company, the bus brings groups of about 20 from Halifax to tour the region. I’m a fan of smaller tours but the TripAdvisor reviews consistently praise the tour.

 
Smoked chicken sandwich and lobster sliders from Gaspereau Vineyards.
Smoked chicken sandwich and lobster sliders from Gaspereau Vineyards.

DIY Nova Scotia Winery Tours

If you can’t take a formal tour it’s easy to get a local car rental for the day and plan your own trip.

Budget Itinerary

  • Start at Luckett Vineyards, which has a very reasonable tasting fee:$12 to try 5 from the core selection of reds, whites or rosé OR three premium collection of reds, whites or specialty dessert wines. Don’t miss the red British phone box in the vineyard where you can make a free call anywhere in North America.
  • Picnic lunch at Mercator Vineyards – one of the most romantic things to do. Mercator offers a picnic lunch for two for $25 to enjoy in the vineyard. If it’s the weekend they also offer a great sparkling weekend special.
  • Domaine de Grand Pre is only a 23 minute walk (says Google Maps). The regular tasting, which includes 5 wines is only $8. A 5oz class of wine on the wine shop deck is $6 – it’s a steal.
  • Dinner at Evangeline Inn – this cafe is a local favourite, it is licensed and also serves Nova Scotia wine. Do not miss skip the dessert as locals come here specifically for the seasonal pie. The mixed berry crisp recipe is also a stand out.
Where to Stay

Evangeline Inn. This a great option close to Mercator Vineyards and the Harvest Moon Trail. You can rent a bicycle from Mercator or walk the trail which takes you along the scenic Acadian dykes.

You’ll find lots of locals out here.

Family Itinerary

With Maritime hospitality, you can really take children anywhere. So you shouldn’t feel that you need to eliminate any Nova Scotia wineries or restaurants because you’re traveling with children.

  • Start with a wine tasting at Lightfoot and Wolfville and stay for lunch. They offer a separate kids menu and have a pizza oven.
  • Head over the Luckett Vineyard for a tasting. Kids love the red British phone booth and can make a call to anywhere in North America
  • Dinner at Gaspereau Vineyard a laid back atmosphere and lots of space for kids to roam. The vine side patio has a menu that includes pizza, the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever eaten and gigantic desserts. Some nights there is also live music so call ahead.

Where to Stay in Gaspereau

The Old Orchard Inn. It’s not the most modern but it’s a good price and has an indoor pool and hot tub. Check rates here

If it’s booked the Evangeline Inn also has a pool and is a great spot for families.

Splurge Itinerary

  • Stop in at Avondale Sky Winery for a tasting and lunch. One of my absolute favourite restaurants in Nova Scotia. I loved their cherry tomato salad so much I asked for the recipe.
  • Tasting at L’Acadie Vineyards for their traditional method sparkling. This is the place to splurge.
  • Pop into Benjamin Bridge for more sparkling and be sure to try the Pet Nat.
  • Head over to Dinner at Le Caveau at Domaine de Grand Pre. Dine under the pergola if the weather is warm and ask your server to pair Domaine de Grand Pre. If you’re there on a Tuesday they also have martini night, which is popular with locals.
Where to Stay in Wolfville

The historic Blomidon Inn is one of the most popular choices and also has a good restaurant. It’s often booked so best to book well in advance – check availability here.

If it’s fully booked, also check out the Tattingstone Inn and The Victoria Inn. For something more modern, the Micro Boutique Hotel is a popular option.

Where to Buy Nova Scotia Wine outside the Wineries?

If you don’t have time to visit all the wineries you can shop the:

 
Devour the Vines event at Domaine de Grand Pre where people have dinner in the vineyard and watch food themed short films.

Awesome Nova Scotia Wine Events 

There are lots of food and wine events in Nova Scotia all year long. Here are a few you should keep an eye on:

Dining on the Ocean Floor

There’s nothing like eating with the fresh air of the ocean. This exclusive dinner is held at low tide on the ocean floor at the home of the highest tides in the world, it rises and falls twice as day and can as high as a five story building.

Read more about my experience dining on the ocean floor.

Stellar Beach Feast

The iconic White Point Beach Resort has culinary and wine events all year round. This summer I went to the Stellar Beach Feast for an oceanside four-course dinner paired with Nova Scotia wine.

It’s followed by an evening walk with Dark Sky Interpreter Paul Lalonde into the dark and ends with a blind tasting of local wine.

Check availability for rooms and cottages and find out what events are happening during your visit.

Devour the Vines

The Devour! Film Festival is hugely successful drawing big names from around the world, while also highlighting local food.

It is held each autumn with a series of events from Nova Scotia seafood chowder competitions to formal dining experiences.

But the group also holds events throughout the year, including Devour the Vines at Domaine de Grand Pré.

19 DELICIOUS:
Yarmouth Restaurants

Chefs Jason Lynch and Michael Howell prepare a multi-course meal served in the vineyard.

It is paired with award-winning wines and delicious short films curated by the team at Devour.

Taste of Nova Scotia also has an excellent list of events happening each week. It’s a great resource for food in Nova Scotia.

 

Stellar beach feast at White Point Beach Resort

The Maritime Experience

Wine isn’t just a drink. It’s an experience. So yes lots of Nova Scotia wine is shipped to other provinces but it’s not the same. 

You don’t have the freshly made seafood. The down home hospitality. The cool salty air when the wind blows a certain way. In Nova Scotia life is a bit slower.

People take their time.

You talk about the weather, and reminisce about last year’s frost or how this summer started late, with hopes it will run late.

It’s different here. We’re the friendliest wine region in the world. And that’s what makes the wine so special.
 
 

Nova Scotia Wineries Map

Pin It For Later: Nova Scotian Wine

 

Disclosure: This post about Nova Scotia wine is a paid partnership with Tourism Nova Scotia. I feel so fortunate to have been able to work on a program in my home province and am so thankful to the winemakers took the time, in some cases hours, to speak with me.

Luckett Vineyard in Wolfville Nova Scotia with British phone box

Images (c) Pinterest images (c) photo-nic.co.uk nic, Louis Hansel, Kevin Kelly. Facebook social share image (c) Maja Petric. Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyard (c) Destination CanadaDomaine de Grand Pre pergola, Go North Tour (c) Tourism Nova Scotia, 

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  1. dolphin tours says:

    What a lovely place…the wine so special n Nova Scotian Wine.i love reading your relaxing experience in that place …

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