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Atlantic vineyards showcased

June 16, 2008  By Dan Woolley


Atlantic vineyards showcased

A bus tour at the start of the Third Atlantic Canadian Wine Symposium showcased a rapidly evolving and expanding Nova Scotia vineyard industry.

A bus tour at the start of the Third Atlantic Canadian Wine Symposium showcased a rapidly evolving and expanding Nova Scotia vineyard industry.

winetourThree years ago, Dr. John Murray began planting vines at his Muir Murray Estate Winery, near Wolfville in the eastern Annapolis Valley. He now has 13 acres planted next to the old farm drive shed he is now converting into a winery and cellars.

He has also planted another 10 acres of vines on 50 acres he has bought in the nearby Gaspereau Valley.
Dr. Murray has 23,000 seedlings for more vines in his greenhouse and he plans to ultimately have 200 acres in grape production.
His hybrid varieties include Foch, Baco Noir, Seyval and L’Acadie – in his cooler Wolfville Vineyard – while his vinifera varieties, including Chardonnnay, Pinto Noir, Cabernet Franc, Riesling and Pinot Grigio, are planted in his more temperate, Gaspereau vineyard.
Dr. Murray projects that his winery, which will be the largest in Atlantic Canada, within five years will be 50,000 cases (600,000 bottles) annually. Asked about its development costs, Murray responds: “I don’t know; but my wife does. But you can quote me a project this size will cost in the millions.”

Gerry McConnell, the symposium’s organizing committee chairman, plans to open his Benjamin
Bridge vineyard in the Gaspereau Valley in 2009. It will be an organic operation and contain the first successful planting in Nova Scotia of Semillon Blanc on 16 acres. McConnell is also growing Chardonnay, Vidal and Pinot Noir.
Nearby, Gaspereau Vineyards – owned by Hans Christian Jost – opened in 2004 and it now has 35 acres in 13 varieties. Its 2007 Riesling recently won a gold medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships .
Across the Gaspereau Valley at L’Acadie Vineyards – Nova Scotia’s first organic vineyard – owner
Bruce Ewert has extensively planted L’Acadie and a smaller area of Leon Millot on 30 acres.
Last fall, Ewert – who has prior wine making experience in Australia, California and British
Columbia – opened his new winery. Its products, L’Acadie Star won a double gold, his Alchemy, a specialty blend made with dried grapes took a gold and his Leon Millot received a silver medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships.
A few kilometres away, on an old farm he bought eight years ago, Pete Luckett began planting wine grapes three years ago and now has 10 acres growing on a former pasture with plans to add another 20 acres and then build a winery, perhaps by 2011.

Because of his vineyard’s north-facing slope, Luckett chose the vigorous, winter-hardy hybrid, Leon Millot as his first planting. Last year, he planted more red varieties, Lucie Kuhlmann, Marechal Foch and Triomphe d’Alsace and he is now considering planting the white hybrid L’Acadie.
Of the 400 acres under vines in Nova Scotia, 160 of them are in the Gaspereau Valley, says Sean Buckland, the wine symposium tour guide.
As a result, it is now becoming almost impossible to find land in the Gaspereau Valley for vineyard development.

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