It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since my visit to Nova Scotia. The images, smells and sounds are still fresh in my mind. Its people will remain in my heart forever. I awoke in a train car my second day. No, it had nothing to do with too much to drink the night before. We stayed at The Train Station in Tatamagouche and my bedroom was in a train car. After a delicious breakfast and a final visit with owner Jimmy LeFresne, we took off for Jost Vineyards to meet Hans Christian Jost and taste some of Nova Scotia’s wines.
Marechal Foch, L’Acadie Blanc & Leon Millot
The Jost family started Jost Vineyards in the late 1970s after emigrating from Germany to Nova Scotia. Hans Christian showed an early interest in the business and his dad told him he should run the company because he would make a lousy employee. Jost Vineyards was licensed in 1983 and its first wines went on sale in 1985. The vineyards are drop dead gorgeous. Located surprisingly close to the coast, they enjoy an average of 175 frost free days annually. Hans Christian’s passion for what he does is crystal clear to see. He does little things, like placing lobster and oyster shells in his vineyards. When told it can’t possibly make a difference, he responds, maybe not in his lifetime, but perhaps in his childrens’ or grandchildrens’ lifetimes. The white wines of Nova Scotia are exceptional, and Jost wines are some of the best. The Eagle Tree Muscat is crisp and very drinkable. Marechal Foch and Leon Millot are red varietals you may not be familiar with (I wasn’t) but they tolerate the Nova Scotia climate and produce some extremely interesting wines. We finished our tasting with a whiskey barrel aged Ice Wine that was incredible, while Hans Christian explained what motivates workers to participate in the ice grape harvest.
Pancakes, Maple Syrup and More Wine
When I had pancakes for breakfast at The Train Station, little did I know I’d be having pancakes for lunch, too, but that’s exactly what was in store for us at Sugar Moon Farm. It was a gray day with a touch of drizzle and on the cool side, but we walked into a great room with a crackling fire and heavenly smells. Quita Gray welcomed us in. We sat at picnic tables by the fire and enjoyed whole grain buttermilk pancakes with fresh maple syrup, beans and sausages while Quita told us about Sugar Moon Farm. She and her husband Scott Whitelaw began a two year apprenticeship on the farm in 1994 and learned the art of making maple syrup. We got a full tour of the facility and saw the wood fueled evaporator they use to make syrup from the “Sugar Woods”. Quita has a sparkle in her eye and clearly loves the path she and Scott have chosen and enjoys sharing what they do with others.
Le Caveau at Domaine de Grand Pré
We left Sugar Moon Farm for The Blomidon In in Wolfville, an historic 19th century estate. We had time to check in and take a quick tour of the grounds before departing for wine tasting and dinner at Domain de Grand Pré, just a few minutes down the road.
Cäcilia Stutz, wife of winemaker Jürg, showed obvious pride in her family’s work as she took us through the vineyards and into the tasting room. The view of the Bay of Fundy from the vineyards is breathtaking to say the least. We tasted several award winning wines in their modern tasting room. I particularly enjoyed the Stutz Hard Cider made with six different apple varieties. The marketing is brilliant – apples in leather jackets, with tattoos, with piercings – “hard” cider – I love it.
From the tasting room we made our way to Le Caveau, Grand Pré’s exceptional restaurant. To a person we were all astounded by how good the food in Nova Scotia was and this dinner was certainly no exception. I started with a wonderful smoked salmon accompanied with goat cheese and beet chips. I’ll be honest. I don’t care for beets. I’m being kind here. I thought I’d be polite and try a beet chip and wound up devouring them all. They were delicious. The presentation for all of the dishes was lovely. I enjoyed a spicy chicken Marrakesh, while others enjoyed pork belly, lobster, scallops and other delights from the kitchen. Sous-Chef Joseph Crocker came out after we had finished our dinner and shared his love of creating great food with us.
The second day had drawn to an end. We returned to the Blomidon Inn where we enjoyed a sound sleep while awaiting a visit to a cheese house, a lobster “pound”, a dyke walk and a visit to an herb farm the next day.