Nova Scotia wine producers brace for a benchmark year

Nova Scotia wine producers get set for benchmark year
There's no denying this summer has been one of the hottest and driest Nova Scotia has seen for some time. While it may not be good news for most farmers, as Global's Natasha Pace found out, it's a completely different story for vineyards.

It’s been a hot, humid and dry summer across Nova Scotia — perfect conditions for wine producers.

“This year’s been phenomenal thus far. We’ve had all kinds of heat and all kinds of sunshine, more than usual,” said Michael Lightfoot, owner of Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards in Wolfville, N.S.

He says the weather has been ideal this year for growing grapes.

“The grapevine root is very deep into the ground and typically where there’s no moisture in the first few feet, the vine roots are down deep enough to attain some moisture.”

Lightfoot says his vineyard has been doing so well, he’s in the process of building a new 16,000 square foot retail space to sell his wine.

Other producers in the province are also excited about what this year’s weather will mean for their vintage. The dry conditions have produced smaller grapes, something producers say will ultimately lead to a better tasting wine.

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“If it’s extended dry, the harvest crop will tend to be slightly more compact grapes and that just means that the flavors will be more intense,” said Stewart Creaser, owner of Avondale Sky Winery.

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The wine industry in Nova Scotia is estimated to be worth more than $200 million, and it continues to grow each year.

Producers say the hot summer weather has allowed vineyards to expand into new varieties of wine and further put Nova Scotia on the map for wine production.

“You can say as much as you want about the science, the art of making wine but you have to start with great grapes to make a great wine,” said Creaser.

“So the better the quality of grapes you can produce out here in the vineyard, the more opportunity you have to make them better in the winery”

Producers are getting set for what they hope is a benchmark year for wine, which they say they didn’t expect to see so soon.

“In the last decade of grape growing it seems I’ve noticed 2013, 2010, these were all years at the time that we considered benchmarks. These years and in 2016 looks as if it’s going to beat those records as well, or potentially beat those records,” said Lightfoot.

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“They’re happening more often, if you look at these benchmark years. We have 3 or 4 in a decade, it’s more than a fluke, it’s a trend.”

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