In a few weeks some tiara wearing bachelorette times are going to be had. Although I firmly outlined the minimal waste ground rules (i.e. no paper penis plates, plastic penis candy containers or forever plastic man-part balloons), I conceded on a tiara and some nice wine.
Living in Montréal I was introduced to the fine art of drinking wine. Everyone drinks wine in Montréal (ok, it seems that way). My two years living in the Okanagan Valley in BC entrenched an appreciation for yummy local wine. With so many wineries a few minutes away, why would anyone buy wines from California, Chile or Australia?
Take a moment and consider the carbon footprint of your wine.
In order to grow the grapes, non-organic or non-sustainable methods require quite a bit of water, land space and use chemical pesticides to grow. These pesticides erode the soil, run off into local waterways and make their way into the foods that we eat. In a time when energy and resources are precious, using them in a non-sustainable manner for a non-essential food item is ridiculous.
Follow that up with the actual fermentation process that use huge metal containers that require energy and cooling systems to run. Depending on how it's aged, the wood used for the barrels (oak for example) doesn't necessarily come from reclaimed or responsibly harvested forest.
Then we have the bottling, using glass (which is easily recyclable) and increasingly synthetic cork or twist caps. Synthetic stoppers are made from plastic, whereas cork stoppers come from a renewable resource and are compostable.
Finally, just how far was your wine shipped on a carbon spewing boat-plane-train-truck to get to your glass? One continent? Two? A couple oceans maybe?
A lot of us don't even consider that there may be fantastic vineyards just outside our neighbourhood. Take Nova Scotia for an example.
I knew there was one local vineyard- Jost. From my bartending days I was never really a fan of Jost wines and like many didn't really consider 'Nova Scotia' wines to be of especially tasty grapes. Surprisingly, Nova Scotia has a burgeoning vineyard community and a pretty decent climate for specific types of tasty varieties.
Nova Scotia has 14 vineyards currently in the province. Yep, 14. I also was flabbergasted at that number. Many of them produce great tasting red and white wines and are run from small family owned vineyards. Also not yet part of VQA wines, they do have a 'Nova Scotia Wine' label indicating province grown grapes only included.
Although some vineyards are featured in the provincial liquor store (NSLC), many still remain a farmer's market find or on-site vineyard purchase. From tasty Muscats to deliciously decadent Maréchal Foch, you really should be able to find a local wine to your fancy.
Last winter a group of friends went down to the Ice Wine festival outside of Wolfville. One non-surprise is that because of our frosty and temperate climate Nova Scotia makes award winning Ice Wine . The sweetest of desert wines, grapes are picked in the wee hours of the mornings and crushed while frozen. It was amazing to be able to visit the many small vineyards scattered across the Valley in the middle of February.
Now, these vineyards may have won on the 'least amount of carbon-footprint' level, but what about the sustainable methods?
L'Acadie Vineyards, a few short hours away from Halifax, has certified organically grown grapes and is a leader in sustainable wine making in Nova Scotia. The owner of the vineyard is actually from Vernon BC and we chatted for a few minutes while visiting his winery last winter. It was inspiring to see his wines show up in the local NSLC, as he had mentioned how challenging it was to negotiate accessibility at a provincial level.
Here are a few of my favourite Nova Scotia vineyards and wines:
1. L'Acadie Vineyards: I adore their 'L'Acadie' white wine. L'Acadie grape is a special Nova Scotian variety that grows very well on Nova Scotian soil. It's not too dry, nor too sweet... and this one is grown sustainably. Sustainable AND local- perfect.
2. Gaspereau Vineyards. I adore their Muscat and Seyval Blanc. Not as sweet as a Gewurtzraminer but not super dry. A yummy sipping wine. They also have some tasty reds...
3. Grand Pré Wines make quite a few fabulous red wines. Although I prefer the Gaspereau and L'Acadie whites, Grand Pré makes some darn good Foch's. Plus, their vineyard is gorgeous and Le Caveau, the winery restaurant serves delicious yummy food. Definitely worth a visit.
Other wineries in Nova Scotia:
Sainte Famille Wines (still on my list to try, available at the farmer's market)
Annapolis Highland Vineyards
Bear River Vineyards (has green energy methods, green energy workshops!)
Benjamin Bridge Vineyards (sparkling wines)
Blomidon Winery (sustainable methods used!)
Lunenburg County Vineyards (awesome blueberry wines-mmmm)
Muir Murray Estate Winery
Petite Rivière Vineyards
Coming up- the Fall Wine Festival (September 16-October 17th), which Andrew and I will make an effort to take a short drive and enjoy!
I gotta say, if Nova Scotia can produce some tasty wines, than it's extremely likely there is a local wine near you. If not (if you live in... well... Yellowknife), at least try to stay within your country. If we can't find yummy Nova Scotian wines, we stick to Canadian wines, Ontario or BC. The closer the better.
There's nothing like tasty, sustainable wine enjoyed with friends.
article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com