Nova Scotia, Canada is renowned for its spectacular coastlines, friendly people and seafood, and it turns out there’s yet another reason to make the trip to the east coast: its wine region. The picturesque Annapolis Valley cuts through the centre of the province and is home to pretty towns and vineyards, ranging from family-owned productions to larger operations that ship their wine across the country. The area is known for its acidic l’Acadie grape which thrives in cold temperatures and produces Tidal Bay, a local favourite named for Nova Scotia’s first wine appellation.
Those who plan on exploring the valley will want to base themselves in Wolfville, a charming town with ivy-covered buildings, a brightly coloured main street, quaint bed and breakfasts, and homes that are so beautifully-maintained they look like they belong in a magazine.
Wolfville is home to Acadia University and the Grand Pré National Historic Site, which commemorates the area as a centre of Acadian settlement and earned it a UNESCO designation. The town is also on the shores of the Minas Basin which feeds into the famed Bay of Fundy. Twice a day, low tides expose 150 miles of sea bottom sediments in the basin, at which point hundreds of plant species coat the surface, transforming the flats into a green leaf. The tidal bore phenomenon can seen from nearby spots such as Cape Split and Cape d’Or, or experienced first hand in Maitland which is the jump-off point for thrilling tidal bore rafting adventures.
READ MORE: Tidal bore rafting in Nova Scotia, Canada: A wild, salty ride
However, there’s no question Wolfville’s main draw is its proximity to the surrounding vineyards that put the Annapolis Valley on the map. The Grand Pré Winery is one of the more popular stops as it’s closest to town, but there are even larger operations nearby, all easily accessed by car, bicycle or on an organized tour. Uncork Nova Scotia and Grape Escapes are both reputable companies in the area, offering packages which include a guide, tasting fees, transportation and food. Tours run from May through October.
Most excursions include a stop at Luckett Vineyards, which is one of the most established operations in the valley. Producing up to 90-thousand barrels per year, the winery overlooks the pretty Gaspereau Valley and is a popular spot for events thanks to its outdoor restaurant just steps away from the vines. Nestled between them is a rather unexpected addition: a bright red phone booth.
The story goes that founder Pete Luckett who hailed from Nottingham, England, wanted a bit of home incorporated into the vineyard. He was rather fond of a phone booth that had been down the street from his childhood home in the UK, and mentioned it to a friend. Sure enough, that same phone booth showed up in Halifax two months later, in a box marked ‘Restaurant Supplies.’ It now has a special spot among the vines, and visitors are welcome to phone anyone in North America on it for free!
Aside from the vineyard, the tasting room is also Instagram-worthy. Huge windows frame the sprawling valley outside, and the walls are lined with hundreds of artfully arranged wine bottles (which are of course available for purchase.) The vineyard is known for its fruit wines, as well as its Buried Red and Phone Box White blends. Luckett Vineyards is also the perfect place to stock up for a picnic, as it sells house-made olive oil along with staples like cheese, cured meats and olives.
Another popular vineyard in the area is Gaspereau Vineyards, which is part of the Devonian Coast Wineries group which also owns the nearby Jost and Mercator Vineyards. The beautiful, barn-like tasting room showcases favourites including their Tidal Bay which blends Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, and New York Muscat, and guests are welcome to meander through the adjoining vineyard.
Gaspereau is a great spot to start a self-guided wine tour, as adorable red cruiser bikes are available to rent.
IF YOU GO:
Where to stay: The historic Blomidon Inn was built as a private residence in 1881, and has been operating as an inn for the last century. The property is the definition of charming, from the long, flower-lined winding driveway that leads to the stately entrance, onto the wooden front porch outfitted with rocking chairs which are the perfect spot to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail, and throughout the cozy interior complete with its plush carpets.
Those wanting to splurge should book the inn’s so-called “Honeymoon Cottage” which has its own entrance separate from the main house. The cottage boasts a parlour, huge bedroom, private garden, and even a bathroom outfitted with a two person jacuzzi tub.
The Blomidon Inn’s restaurant is also a great place for dinner, serving up east coast favourites such as lobster linguini, seared scallops and their house speciality: maple smoked salmon, hot-smoked on the property and served with a sweet maple yogurt dressing.
How to get there: Wolfville is only a one hour drive along highway 101 from Halifax. It’s also a great spot to start a trip through Nova Scotia for those road tripping from New Brunswick, as it’s about four hours from Saint John including a ferry ride across the Bay of Fundy.
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Globe Guide explored Wolfville in collaboration with Tourism Nova Scotia. As always, hosts have no editorial influence over articles
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