Nova Scotia is known for its farmlands, its fisheries, and its forests, but over the last forty years you’ll find that there’s been a growing local beer and wine presence on the Canadian stage. From old vineyards to brand-new microbreweries, there’s plenty of ways to get a grown-up taste of Nova Scotia, and this list will give you a starting point to enjoying all that Nova Scotia has to offer.
1365 Church Street Vineyard & Winery
This winery hasn’t always been a winery—in fact, five years before it opened it was a barley field! Another Nova Scotian boutique winery, the grounds are covered in vines and give you a beautiful place to watch the sunrise or sunset. 1365 Church Streethas tastings and tours on offer every day of the week, so you can go and sample their red wines, aged for at least 3 years, or their white and rosés in the tasting room!
Address: 1365 Church Street, Port Williams; 902-957-1053
You’ll find L’Acadie Vineyards in the Gaspereau Valley, where co-owner Pauline’s family roots ho back nine generations. The first in the region to release traditionally made sparkling wine in 2008, also known as Champagne-method sparkling wine, it’s the real deal with a Nova Scotian feel!
Look, you’re either getting puns or lame rhymes.
In addition to their sparkling offerings, they also have red, white, and rosé on offer, along with sparkling cider if you feel like switching it up. Come tour the vineyards before you sit down in their tasting room to choose your very favourite sparkle.
Address: 319 Slayter Road, Gaspereau; 604-630-3076
Avondale Sky Winery
With some of the most beautiful wine labels I’ve ever seen, Avondale Sky Winery immediately stands out as something special. This winery so close to the Bay of Fundy you’ll be able to sample sweet wines with a salty breeze to compliment it. Stay for a tour and tasting, or you can plan a private dinner party at the Mosher house. Also, keep an ear out for events—with things reopening this summer, you might get to attend an event here before the fall!
Address: 80 Avondale Cross Road, Newport Landing; 902-253-2047
Backstage Brewing Company
Backstage Brewing Company offers the best parts of a Nova Scotia beer experience. With several of their craft beers on tap (and more on the way!), the Backstage Brewing Company is a taproom for everyone. With frequent live music and trivia nights, there’s always something fun in store, and they’re focused on creating a fun place for their community. And if you can’t choose a favourite beer, don’t worry; they’ve got flights for tastings!
Address: 37 Bridge Avenue, Stellarton; 902-755-9371
Bear River Vineyards
Bear River is a community known for its artists, so it makes sense that its vineyards are so beautiful. They grow more than wine grapes here—peaches, berries, walnuts, and lavender are also grown on the property, and they’re all cared for by hand. You can also see a giant fig tree in the greenhouse, and then go to the shop and get some fig jam! Come for a tour and tasting (you can even do a private one in the wine cellar), and there’s even a guest room available, so you can make this gorgeous vineyard your home base on a Digby area vacation.
Address: 133 Chute Road, Bear River; 902-467-4156
Bent Ridge Winery and Bent Nail Brewery
Why choose between a vineyard and a brewery when you can have both? Steven and Glenn Dodge are two brothers who have turned their family farm into a winery, brewery, and restaurant in the Avon Valley. The wine bottles and beer growlers are actually bent, which is a fun touch, and the restaurant has a mix of fun foods perfect for sharing with a group. Come for one of their Argentinian Grill Nights, a tasting, or simply to enjoy an afternoon on the patio overlooking the vineyards.
Address: 4499 Highway 14, Windsor; 902-472-2212
Big Spruce Brewing
Big Spruce Brewing started with a big dream that has paid off with some amazing Cape Breton beers. Situated in a 100-year-old farmhouse, Big Spruce has several different bears, ales, and hard seltzers to sample. When you walk through the hopyard you’ll get a stunning view of the Bras D’Or Lake, and you’ll get the same great view in the taproom and the Sprucetique, which is their gift shop and it has the best name ever. If you can’t get to Cape Breton just yet, Big Spruce can be found in most NSLCs, or you can order some to try online—they let you mix and match your own six pack!
Address: 64 Yankee Line Road, Baddeck, Cape Breton Island; 902-295-2537
Blomidon Estate Winery
When you look at this vineyard, you can see both why it’s a boutique winery (it’s quite a bit smaller than others on this list), and why it has such special wines. Blomidon uses purely Nova Scotian grapes from their location right beside the sea, and while they have fewer wines on offer, they are all specially created to emphasize the unique terroir of the area. During the summer you can take a guided tour, or you can wander the winery yourself and take in a beautiful ocean view as you taste their wines.
Address: 10318 NS-221 Canning; 902-582-7565
Casa Nova Fine Beverages
Casa Nova is another Bear River favourite, and their specialty is actually their variety. They have traditional wines, of course, but you’ll also find cellos (also known as fortified wines) with blueberries, strawberries or rhubarb depending on your preferences. They’ve also got ciders, not only from apples but also cherry and pears. Come for a complimentary tour and tasting, or book a food and wine pairing event if you want to enjoy the local food as well as the drink!
Address: 2635 Clementsvale Road, Bear River; 902-467-0363
Chain Yard Cider
Wine and beer are all well and good, and they deserve to be celebrated. But as you’ll notice from other places on this list, the local craft cider scene is starting to get legs. Chain Yard Cider is the brainchild of Pete Luckett, who also owns Luckett Vineyards (see below). The first cidery in Halifax, they have a wide range of traditional ciders as well as berry ciders, an ice cider, and even a kombucha cider. Chain Yard Cider offers a new take on the traditional tap room, and while it might be the first of its kind, with any luck we’ll have more cideries down the road following their example.
Address: 2606 Agricola Street, Halifax; 902-407-2244
Domaine de Grand Pré
Domaine de Grand Pré has the food and wine experience down to a science, highlighting local cuisine and fruits in their offerings. They have a variety of wines on offer, including icewines and apple and Haskap based liqueurs. They also have a restaurant called Le Caveau, which is beautiful and has both lunch and dinner available. They even have brunch! Come for a tour and learn about the history of the area, the story of how Domaine de Grand Pré came to be, and discover the grape hybrids that are created and grown on these grounds.
Address: 11611 Highway 1, Grand Pré; 902-542-1753 or 1-866-479-4637
Eileanan Brèagha Vineyards
Cape Breton has tremendous natural beauty, but its mainly fertile soil can be hostile to one plant in particular: wine grapes. In fact, Eileanan Brèagha is the only vineyard in Cape Breton right now, though that hasn’t stopped them from producing exceptional wines. Overlooking the gorgeous Bras d’Or Lake, this vineyard has three reds, two whites, and a rosé on offer, each a wonderful representation of the terroir of this unique area. Eileanan Brèagha has been going strong since 1993 when the first vines were planted, which makes it a perfect time to taste their wines and see how special they truly are.
Address: 5349 Marble Mountain Road
Garrison Brewing Company
Garrison Brewing has been a hit since they opened their doors, thanks to thoughtfully created beers and sodas (you’ve got to try the ginger-lime Seaport Soda, it’s my favourite!). Located just steps from Pier 21 Museum of Immigration and the Seaport Market, Garrison has been a quintessential part of the Halifax beer market since 1997. With their taproom recently opened on Quinpool Road, new flavours, and dietary options (they have gluten-free beer!) introduced regularly, and a commitment to community, make sure you take a sip of Garrison while you’re in town.
Address: 1149 Marginal Road, Halifax; 902-406-2174
Gaspereau Valley has several vineyards, and each has their own emphasis—for Gaspereau Vineyards, they pride themselves on their Rieslings. They’ve got plenty of other options though, including bold reds, sweet rosés and even maple wine for dessert! You can taste their wines on a patio overlooking the vineyards, and once you’ve chosen a favourite you can have a fresh local meal to go along with it. If you want to learn more, take a tour, or just walk through the vineyards as you please and enjoy this beautiful corner of the valley.
Address: 2239 White Rock Road, Gaspereau; 902-542-1455
Jost Vineyardsis the oldest operating vineyard in Nova Scotia, with their vines dating back to 1978. With all this experience under their belts, it’s no surprise that they have a robust wine list and also have lots of experience with innovative winemaking, including 4 Skins, a wine made from four different grapes that were fermented on their skins. Their tasting bar and Seagrape Café & Deli let you taste both wine and local fare, while their tours will teach you how the sea and the land have come together to form the Jost terroir.
Address: 48 Vintage Lane, North Shore; 902-257-2636 or 1-800-565-4567
Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards
At Lightfoot & Wolfville, it’s all about small batches from big ideas. L&W use biodynamic viticulture in order to include every aspect of their farm lifecycle in the winemaking process. Certified organic, their wine list is creative and inclusive (and their bottles are beautifully designed). With eight generations of farming going into this winery, coming for a visit, a tasting, and a tour is a fantastic choice for those who love to understand the story of the wine they drink.
Address: 11143 Evangeline Trail, Wolfville; 902-542-7774
Luckett Vineyards overlooks the Gaspereau Valley, but its expansive and creative style could be at home in California. The wines they produce are firmly Nova Scotian, and they even have rosé spritzers available called Hair of the Dog, which look very charming. There’s both a bistro and a private cellar for parties on site, and while you enjoy their food offerings you can do a tasting flight or two, choosing from either their core wines, specialty wines, or both!
Address: 1293 Grand Pré Road, Wolfville; 902-542-2600
Lunenburg County Winery
Old Macdonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O! and on this farm he had a vineyard…wait, what? Yes, while Hackmatack Farm is widely known as a highbush blueberry farm perfect for a picnic day, it’s also home to the Lunenburg County Winery. This winery is on the opposite side of the province from most of the other ones on this list, and therefore has its own terroir and influences, including blueberry wine! If you’re looking for a day trip, come pick berries with the kids and pick up some wine for when you get home and put your feet up.
Address: 813 Walburne Road, Mahone Bay; 902-644-2415
If you’re looking for a more upscale wine tasting experience, Mercator Vineyards prides itself on being a premium wine estate. With complex and delicious flavours in each of their small-batch wines, you can also drink easy knowing that Mercator Vineyards have several beehives on the property. Not only can you get local and fresh honey, but you can also be part of the effort to protect the world’s honeybees. Walk these gorgeous grounds and feast your eyes before you sate your thirst at the wine bar.
Address: 88 Dyke Road, Wolfville; 902-542-7770
Petite Riviere Vineyards
As you may be able to tell from the name, Petite Riviere embraces the French wine tradition wholeheartedly—even the vineyard layout is French-designed! Well, both vineyards, because they actually have two, with the Harmon Hill vineyard planted in 1994, and St. Mary’s following in 1999. Come on Wednesdays and Sundays for guided tours of the winery and the vineyards, and keep an eye on their events calendar, as they often have live music performances to complement your wine tasting experience.
Address: 1300 Italy Cross Road, Crousetown; 902-693-3033
Planters Ridge Vineyards
The owners of Planters Ridge Vineyards came across Nova Scotia as a place with wineries for sale by accident, but their timeless and terroir-driven approach to winemaking makes it hard to believe that they only opened in 2011. Ten years on, Planters Ridge has an impressive selection of wines available for tastings. They also have sparkling wines, ciders, mead and even a chocolate wine! Come and visit their beautiful grounds and take a tour that includes a tasting!
Address: 1441 Church Street, Port Williams; 902-542-2711
Saint Famille Wines
Saint Famille is home both to some of the oldest wines in Nova Scotia, as well as the first female winemaker in Nova Scotia, Suzanne Corkum. Their wine selection ranges from ice blueberry wine to fruit forward reds and off-dry whites, so there’s something for everyone. Come and wander the grounds and learn how this vineyard began from humble roots and grew from the ground up into this spectacular place 31 years later.
Address: 11 Dudley Park Lane, RR#2, Falmouth; 902-798-8311 or 1-800-565-0993
Sober Island Brewing Company
Sitting happily on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, Sober Island’s legend dates back to a low supply of alcohol for the traditional “we’ve been to a new place” toast. There’s no fear of running dry here, with Sober Island brewing up five beers with creative names and processes. One of them deserves special mention: Beth’s Black, named for Hurricane Beth of 1971 and has oysters boiled in it for the last ten minutes of the ale making process. Visit the taproom and try it and the others for yourself—just don’t drink and sail!
Address: 22462 Highway 7, Sheet Harbour; 902-885-2072
Trider’s Craft Beer
A family craft brewery in Amherst, Trider’s Craft beer is ready to showcase the best of Cumberland County’s hops! They have an impressive range of flavours and specialty brews. How special, you might ask? Depending on the time of year, you can get coffee, blueberry, oatmeal stout, smoked, and even pumpkin ale! If you can’t decide, head to their taproom, and get a flight or two for the table so everyone can figure out their favourite Trider’s drink.
Address: 46 Anson Avenue, Unit #3, Amherst; 902-614-8983
Tusket Falls Brewing
Last only because this list is alphabetical, Tusket Falls Brewing is one of the baby craft breweries of Nova Scotia—established only four years ago, they’ve created quite the name for themselves. All of their bears have creative names and can designs—my favourite for looks is A Diversion in Life, but they are all really beautiful. With fruity beers, pale ales, and specialty hop blends, Tusket Falls offers an adventure in beer. Make sure you save time for a meal at their kitchen (appropriately named Speak Easy), where they have all the best bar foods with some interesting twists on offer, and lots of beer on tap.
Address: 20 Slocomb Crescent, Tusket; 902-648-3340
By: Adrienne Colborne