Wine and Nova Scotia in the same sentence? Who knew.
Sister Linda first told us of this tour when we were booking our travel time together. While my initial thoughts had us going in the opposite direction, I made a U-turn after hearing the words Magic and Winery. How could I resist?
The Region and Industry
I only became aware that Nova Scotia had a wine industry recently after reports back from neighbours Colleen and René. I thought it may be a one-of winery, but after researching this tour, I became a bit more educated.
The wine industry in the Gaspereau region began with one winery in the late 1970s and at first most of the production was locally consumed. There are now 12 wineries, 70 grape growers and more than 800 acres of vines under cultivation in 7 regions. Specialties include fruit, sparkling and ice wines, but they have been winning awards for many more traditional styles.
8 of these wineries are located near Wolfville and 5 of them are situated on an easily navigated loop route. Enter the Magic Winery Bus tour. For $50 CAD, you get transportation, orientation, tours and tastings at up to 5 wineries. Tours run every hour and you can easily see 4 wineries or if you leave on the early tour, you can squeeze in all 5. The tour driver and guide are very knowledgeable about the region, industry and wineries. Most vineyards have either a full restaurant or some specialty food options. All offer detailed and varied tastings and of course, there is plenty of finished product for sale. Tours run mostly on weekends (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) and are seasonal. They leave from the Wolfville Visitor Center. Here is the link to the website https://magicwinerybus.ca/
Following are photos of the bus, a rather cranky vintage Routemaster double decker….
Lightfoot and Wolfville Winery was our first stop and likely the favourite for our group of 4. It is Nova Scotia’s newest winery with the first bottles being produced in 2015. They have a wood fired pizza oven and some skill in the kitchen and we had a tasty lunch of house-made tomato bisque and a calzone, accompanied by their Rosé wine. Delicious.
After our tour and lunch at W & L, we heard the bus was going to be late, so opted to do some additional wine tastings to pass the time. In due course, the bus pulled up and we were off to our second stop at Domaine de Grad Pré, the oldest winery in the region. We enjoyed our wine tasting, but strange as it may seem, it was also time for an afternoon coffee, so we grabbed some coffee and settled outdoors in the mist to enjoy it.
This winery also makes an Apple Cream Liqueur (think Irish Cream liqueur, but tasting light creamy apples). We will take a bottle, please.
This winery is also located adjacent to Grand Pré View Park, which celebrates the history of the Acadians who settled in this area. It became a Unesco World Heritage site in 2012. The view was misty, but still intriguing on this day. We had the most fun listening to the bird scare recordings playing. It must have worked. Even though we were giggling about the sounds, there were no birds present.
Our 3rd stop was at Luckett Vineyards, but we opted to stay on the bus as we could only fit 4 wineries in. We hear that this is the one we should not have skipped.
Next on the tour was lèAcadie Vineyards, specializing in sparkling wines made in the Champenoise style (they can not be called Champagne due to French regional wine copyright rules). We tasted several conventional wines, before moving on to the bubbly, including a bubbly sparkling apple (not cider) also made in the traditional Champenoise style. It was so delicious, we could not resist purchasing some.
The last winery we visited on this day was Gaspereau Vineyards. They specialize in Rieslings and also offer a Maple wine, fermented from maple syrup collected from Nova Scotia maple groves. This is a special cost add and is served in a chocolate cup. Delicious, but very sweet. None of us cared for the red wines offered here.
All in all, a great way to pass a rainy day. The tasting options offered were generous, many of the offerings were indeed delicious and we all had great comfort in knowing none of us had to attempt to drive after the tour, which dropped us right downtown, close to our restaurant choice for the night.