ANNAPOLIS VALLEY, NS - The Annapolis Valley is a burgeoning Canadian wine destination and two wineries have been recognized in an online travel blog for offering the region’s top tasting experiences.
Travel website Expedia.ca recently published a blog by travel and lifestyle writer and editor Lily Rogers titled “Coast to Coast Wine Tasting in Canada”. In the blog, Rogers said that Nova Scotia is a dominant cold-climate grape region, perhaps best known for the unique and often full-bodied L’Acadie blanc.
She said the Annapolis Valley is a prime growing ground, with other fertile spaces in the province including the neighbouring Gaspereau Valley - considered part of the Annapolis Valley region - the Bear River Valley and the Malagash Peninsula.
“The two-dozen or so wineries are making their names known, especially for their whites, which are full of bright and aromatic nuance that highlight the unique terroir,” Rogers wrote in her blog.
Rogers gave the nod to Benjamin Bridge and Domaine de Grand Pré as the top two wine tasting destinations in the Annapolis Valley region. Both wineries have won multiple awards for their products.
Rogers wrote in her blog that sparkling enthusiasts know where to go – Benjamin Bridge. She described the destination as “the premier place for Canadian bubbles” and said that “once you taste the fresh citrus complexity of the sparkling rosé or the rich balance of the brut reserve, you’ll be a convert in no time.”
Rogers said that, with its location in the beautiful Gaspereau Valley and all the fine wines to taste, the reasons to visit Benjamin Bridge are “as bountiful as the terroir.”
“Benjamin Bridge’s reputation precedes itself as a first-rate sparkling specialist, and who doesn’t want the best of the best?” Rogers said.
Benjamin Bridge Winery founder and owner Gerry McConnell found out about the recognition during a recent interview with KingsCountyNews.ca at his Gaspereau Valley establishment.
The news came as he was hosting a meeting of area grape producers and winery representatives regarding a severe late frost that damaged grapevines in many vineyards, including his own, and it was great to hear.
McConnell said that when people visit to taste their wines, they want to give them the best possible experience and help them understand what they’re drinking from their glasses. He said it’s nice when someone recognizes that.
“We have a family of workers here that are really passionate about what we’re doing,” McConnell said. “We’ve never looked at it as a business, we look at it as a passion and everybody who works here is very, very dedicated to making the very best possible wines we could.”
McConnell said he believes the recognition from Expedia.ca will be beneficial, especially considering the incredible power of the Internet and social media.
Domaine de Grand Pré
Rogers wrote that perhaps no winery is more Nova Scotian than Domaine de Grand Pré. The blog states that “Here, they are committed to producing varietals and styles that represent the flavours and land of Atlantic Canada.”
Rogers said that Domaine de Grand Pré caught their fancy for its commitment to the flavours and character of Nova Scotia.
“We are always looking for uniqueness when we travel, and this charming winery produces its own varietals; what’s more unique than that?” Rogers said. “It doesn’t hurt that the buildings and surrounding land are as pleasing to look at as the wine is to taste.”
Domaine de Grand Pré winemaker Jurg Stutz said it’s always a big honour to be recognized in such a way. He said he understands Expedia.ca to be consumer-driven, so it’s great to be recognized from the consumer or customer perspective, not just the industry side.
Stutz said the recognition would be beneficial to Domaine de Grand Pré and the wine industry in the Annapolis Valley in general in terms of drawing people here to experience our vintages.
“There is so much going on in the wine industry here in the Valley and, of course, it’s not just our location,” he said.
For example, the winery is among the stops on the Wolfville Magic Winery Bus Tour, which draws crowds of aficionados to the region.
Stutz said a visitor could easily spend a couple of hours at Domaine de Grand Pré. It offers a beautiful location with nicely groomed gardens, the Le Caveau restaurant, tours, tastings and a vineyard walk to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Landscape of Grand Pre View Park.
‘Heartbreaking’ to see frost damage to vines
Domaine de Grand Pré winemaker Jurg Stutz said it’s “very heartbreaking” to see the damage Mother Nature caused to their vineyards with a late, severe frost overnight from June 3 to 4.
There wasn’t much damage to their vines in Grand Pré but their Gaspereau Valley vineyard, about 15 acres in size, incurred extensive damage from the frost. Stutz said he estimates that about 90 per cent of the shoots were harmed.
“It’s very early to say how much of an actual loss we will have but it will be significant for sure,” he said.
Stutz said the vines would push new shoots out from the dormant buds and secondary and tertiary buds. However, he said these wouldn’t be as fruitful as the primary buds which were damaged.