A rising tide lifts all boats: the story of Nova Scotia’s wine appellation
Thursday, December 13, 2018
During the holiday season, our thoughts often turn to enjoy locally produced wine, spirits and craft beer. In some circles, talking about Nova Scotia-produced wines can still raise an eyebrow, and mentioning our signature wine appellation is a guaranteed headscratcher.
Thankfully, the province’s wine industry isn’t paying attention. Producing the only wine appellation in North America, this emerging sector took the sound advice of an expert consultant, came to an agreement on direction and standards, and realized a regional appellation – Tidal Bay. Since its official launch in 2012, the Nova Scotia signature blend has been helping the region’s wine industry find its niche in the competitive world of wine.
Named for the bays, tides and open ocean that so influence the terroir of Nova Scotia (no vineyard is more than 20 kilometers from the water), Tidal Bays are crisp white aromatic wines. Every Tidal Bay displays the unique characteristics of our cool climate region; the soil and resulting grape varieties allowing for the production of distinctive, refreshing whites.
While all Tidal Bays must follow a strict set of standards, each blend is unique, with 11 Nova Scotia wineries producing their own expression of the signature appellation in vintage 2017. This collective effort to craft something uniquely Nova Scotian focuses and amplifies the local wine industry, and as more Nova Scotia wine producers develop export markets and sell their wine outside the Province, the Tidal Bay brand plays an important role.
Gillian Mainguy, Head of Sales for Benjamin Bridge, explains the uniqueness and value of Tidal Bay. “Nova Scotia is a very special place. When you start telling people our narrative – the highest tides in the world, the moderating effect of the Bay of Fundy — it makes an impact.”
“Nova Scotia is a very special place. When you start telling people our narrative – the highest tides in the world, the moderating effect of the Bay of Fundy — it makes an impact.”
She adds, “For an emerging wine industry to have agreed on an appellation, it’s an excellent marketing opportunity – every year the wines have to be submitted for approval. That’s where we get respect even though we’re young – that focus.”
That focus is helping create economic impact. Over the past 13 years, established wineries have grown by 133%. Today there are 22 wineries, growing Nova Scotia as a wine tourism destination. A milestone moment for the industry was when Benjamin Bridge’s Brut Reserve 2008 landed on the wine list of one of Gordon Ramsay’s prestigious restaurants.
And though we may be smaller in numbers than other Canadian wine regions like Niagara and Okanagan, Nova Scotia’s unique grape varieties are producing notable, award-winning wines, gaining international attention, whether its Tidal Bay, ice wine, or a traditional-method sparkling.
“We may not always lead with the Tidal Bay, as we’re more focused on sparkling for export," says Mainguy. “But having an appellation wine always piques people’s interest. It’s truly an example of a rising tide lifting all boats.”
Thanks to the strict standards of Tidal Bay, there is a guaranteed level of quality. Always an aromatic white, Tidal Bays are described as “Nova Scotia in a glass, cool, crisp, lively, and aromatic.” All grapes used must be grown in Nova Scotia, with winemakers allowed to choose from more than 20 identified grape varieties to make their Tidal Bay. Every Tidal Bay has to pass a blind tasting by an independent tasting panel to be approved as an official Tidal Bay wine.
Beyond the marketing advantages and stringent standards, Mainguy highlights the true value of Tidal Bay. “It’s fun, it’s refreshing. It may not pair well with your Christmas turkey dinner, but it goes beautifully with Nova Scotia seafood. And to be honest, it also pairs well with potato chips.”
Which if you think about it, is a perfectly Nova Scotian approach to pairing.
To learn more about the value of exporting, download our Trade Market Intelligence Report Special Report, Craft Beer & Cider in Mainland China & Hong Kong. As always, you can contact us to learn more about exporting from Nova Scotia.