The people propelling Nova Scotia wine forward

This past winter and early spring I had the privilege to visit and get up close with some of the young, vivacious winemakers and industry professionals that are shaping the Nova Scotia wine industry. I was overwhelmed by their display of passion and their drive to make Nova Scotia wine representative of our province. I was left amazed and inspired by their desire to share Nova Scotia’s story.

These are the folks who are truly shaping our industry. They are innovative risk-takers and collaborators, appreciating that one individual success will benefit the whole. There is no doubt that they want Nova Scotia wine to be successful, and not just for their own interests. These young and savvy wine teams could have chosen anywhere in the world to make, grow and sell wine, to hone their craft and become recognized. Instead, they chose Nova Scotia to make their mark. So why choose small, obscure, challenging Nova Scotia to make wine? I have fermented their answer down to the crisp minerality that our soil and climate can display, particularly in our aromatic whites and traditional method sparklings. In addition to the fact that Nova Scotia is simply a fantastic place to live, where you can live happily while having fun discovering the possibilities of a wine region.

Nova Scotia provides the perfect storm of elements for a young wine professional. It’s a challenging place to grow and make wine, and it gives the opportunity for a risk-return tradeoff. It’s never a sure thing. It’s where you can hone spectacular wines and challenge yourself, the grapes and winemaking techniques to be more, do more, to create something spectacular. The young and the restless of the Nova Scotia wine industry are given the chance to become specialized in a homogenous world of wine. They’re granted the prospect of making focussed terroir-driven wines and adventuring into the possibility of propelling our small industry forward.

I wish I had more time to write about each and every wine team that is shaping the industry, but for now, I shall shine the spotlight on only a few.

Let’s begin with the hip, enthusiastic and dedicated team at Benjamin Bridge, who is pushing the envelope of cool-climate winemaking, never compromising our climatic influence and making the world listen. They are truly projecting our sense of place in every single wine, every single vintage. Including their wild idea to inoculate the 2016 Nova 7, a collaborative wine crafted from over 15 vineyard sites with yeast strains that occur naturally at their winery. A risky approach, disrupting conventional thinking of producing an aromatic fizzy wine to truly embracing their space on the globe. Although young, they have a mature outlook, crafting every wine meticulously with the idea of sharing our unique Nova Scotia story. A story that needs to be passed down, not only generation to generation, but wine connoisseur to wine curious.  This vineyard and winemaking team have evolved into terroir-driven machines and the story needs to be shared here at home, across Canada and abroad.

There is no doubt that the Luckett Vineyards team has crafted the perfect tourism experience at their winery, and there is also no doubt that they have found a niche to literally dig into the Nova Scotia terroir. The perfect example: the buried wine program, white and red. A synergetic example of wine becoming part of the land. A crazy idea of burying wine eight feet deep into the same soil where the vines grow. They are aging the wine in oak barrels resting in a natural earth tomb and just seeing what happens. That is calculated risk, and we the wine consumers are the benefactors.

As the entire wine industry awaits the much-anticipated opening of Lightfoot & Wolfville this summer, it is important to shed some insight into their young, dynamic, forward-thinking team.  All farmers first, they are becoming agents of change, applying biodynamic philosophy of farming techniques and crafting ingenious wines from simple thinking and, I might add, a whack of interesting varieties. It is the obscure that often gets noticed, and the calculated, inventive thinking of this team is going to get Nova Scotia noticed.

My challenge to you all is to take a deep plunge into Nova Scotia wine this season. On your next visit to Nova Scotia wine country take that extra minute to get to know the young and the restless who are shaping our industry. Ask questions, dive deep into their story, whether it is those tending the vines, the folks pouring the wine at the tasting bar, the guide that is giving the tour, the server that is placing your meal in front of you or the person behind the scenes making the wine. They all have a story to tell, and theirs is just one chapter in our evolving industry and success.