By Mark DeWolf, Occasions, Summer 2009
DRIVING UP THE QUIET COUNTRY road leading to L’Acadie Vineyards, I can’t help but think Bruce Ewart must have come to a fork in his life and, like the traveler in Robert Frost’s famous poem, decided to take “the road less traveled.” Having recently tasted his wines, I for one am glad he did.
Bruce and wife Pauline Scott opened the doors of their winery in 2008, four years after moving to Nova Scotia from British Columbia. Bruce and Pauline had long dreamt of making the move. On their many trips to Nova Scotia over the years, Bruce and Pauline had determined that the Gaspereau Valley’s unique terroir would make an ideal location for an organic winery focused on traditional method sparkling wine. The ultimate decision was made when they determined the Nova Scotia wine industry had reached a point where it could support their efforts.
Bruce, Pauline, their kids and Newfoundland dog packed up their belongings and moved to the East Coast. L’Acadie Vineyards was born on a north-facing slope in the bucolic setting of the Gaspereau Valley. It seems the opportunity to join a young and growing wine industry, not to mention the smell of the ocean air, was too compelling to pass on.
Ewart’s choice of land raised a few eyebrows amongst the Nova Scotia wine experts. No one disputed the choice of the Gaspereau Valley, a small sub-valley of the larger Annapolis Valley, but popular wisdom of the day was to locate a vineyard on the relatively fertile south-facing slopes along White Rock Road. Bruce Ewart isn’t one to choose a well-worn path. Bruce opted for a piece of land on the opposite side of the valley with a gentle northwest slope and well-draining rocky soil.
The vineyard achieves as many heat units as those on the other side of the valley, but unlike his neighbours across the river, his soils are perfect for imparting the complex, mineral character great cool climate wines are known for. The site’s rockier soil also offered Bruce the opportunity to grow his L’Acadie Blanc grapes using the strict organic methods he had previously utilized at Summerhill Pyramid Winery – Canada’s largest organic vineyard, located in the Okanagan Valley.
The results of Bruce and Pauline’s efforts are undeniable, given the early success of their wines. Their 2007 L’Acadie Star, a dry white wine, won a Double Gold Medal and Best of Category at the 2008 All-Canadian Wine Championships. The L’Acadie Vineyards Alchemy won Gold at the same competition. The latter is a red wine made in the style of Italy Amarone, meaning the grapes are dried in a controlled environment known in Italy as the appassimento method.
From their choice of vineyard site, use of organic methods and choice of wines styles including L’Acadie Blanc based sparkling wines and red wines made from dried grapes, Bruce Ewart has definitely chosen the road less traveled and we’re all benefiting from it.