When I heard Nova Scotia was a burgeoning wine region, I assumed I’d be tasting fruit wine, maybe some syrupy ice wine. In other words, treacle. But the pours at Domain de Grand Pré, a vineyard on the west coast of the province, about an hour’s drive from Halifax, were white and red hybrids whose French names — L’Acadie Blanc and Léon Millot — telegraphed credibility. I sipped, swirled, spat, and realized that this was no plonk.
Next stop was Gaspereau, a four-year-old winery just south of Grand Pré. Since it was harvest time, sirens were sounding to scare away the ring-necked pheasants, but we were invited to pluck some enormous purple Lucie Kuhlmann grapes and smaller muscat right from the vines. I was becoming convinced about wine country’s great sweep northward — finally, a positive consequence of global warming.
About half of Nova Scotia’s eight vineyards are clustered in this swath of land along the Fundy Coast, where a perfect storm of factors combines to create the highest tides in the world. Next year the wine trail grows longer — two new wineries are scheduled to open here in 2008, including Nova Scotia’s first organic vineyard.
Where there is wine, there must be cheese. At nearby Fox Hill Farm and Cheese House, a sixth-generation dairy farmer told us how she and her husband turned to cheesemaking in 2004 to add value to their milk. As I listened, I speared cubes of gouda, havarti and feta from a tasting tray that looked like a tackle box, and spread quark, a very dippable cross between yogurt and cottage cheese, onto crackers. The feta made me thirsty, so I had no choice but to drive past more gilded fields and on to the next tasting.