L'Acadie Vineyards Blog
Welcome to the L'Acadie Vineyards blog and winery news
Do you know where the wine in your glass was grown? A winery can choose to use an appellation designation to give you validated information, and of course there is the required country of origin on the label, or wineries can simply share unverified vineyard sources on back labels. Much like appellation systems control a region’s wines, the Canadian Organic Standard controls organic wines and can be trusted to ensure the organic grape content in the bottle through rigorous inspections.
The Canada Organic symbol on a bottle of organic wine is controlled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and is the only validation to consumers of organic grapes, organic wine production and no GMO products – all inspected by a certifying body. The traceability audit is one of the many facets of an organic winery’s operations that are scrutinized on an annual basis. Record keeping has to be exemplary for the inspector to trace wines back to specific parcels of vineyards, and to ensure proper chain of custody and non-contamination. And each grower that supplies grapes must be certified organic themselves, providing a vital record for the wine audit. This traceability is one of the major foundations behind the organic symbol on the bottle.
Scrutiny in food production has steadily increased for food safety, sustainable efforts and consumer demand. The pandemic has intensified that consumer demand, with authenticity and local origin catapulting to the main stage. Traceability is becoming more important to wine drinkers to ensure authenticity and avoid counterfeit wines, a problem associated with high end prestige wines that is now creeping into lower price points. Solutions such as Blockchain, a transparent and secure record system that is most famous for Bitcoin transactions, are starting to be applied to build trust between wineries and consumers. Is the future QR codes on bottles that trace the wine right to the grape source? Perhaps, but right now consumers can trust a symbol that is transparent, validated and authentic and that is the Canada Organic symbol.
Wine writers have complimented us that our labels have an "abundance of information" and we couldn't agree more. Our goal is to enlighten buyers so they can make an informed decision in a marketplace crowded with marketing names and slogans. Here are five information nuggets that you'll find on our labels:
The most important information on our label is the Canada Organic symbol and certifying inspector, Pro-Cert. There is hard work, passion and risk-taking to make a certified organic wine and the status tells buyers that only natural inputs were used to grow and make the wine. You can't put organic on the label or website next to a wine unless it is certified with thorough inspections that include a traceability audit to ensure only organic grapes went into the bottle.
We declare the grape varieties that go into our blends on the back label. If you want to declare a varietal on the front label, current wine standards in Nova Scotia require at least 85% of the declared variety. An example is Estate L'Acadie, which is 100% L'Acadie blanc from our estate vineyard next to the winery.
We declare the geographic area where our grapes are sourced. We have several certified organic growers that we buy grapes from, and their certificates become part of our traceability. I'm a winemaker from British Columbia, a wine region that is built on a quality standard called Vintners Quality Alliance, VQA. In the early days, the VQA bottle mark contributed greatly to consumer confidence of 100% BC grapes. Now there is further refinement with smaller geographic areas such as Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Vancouver Island and more and more areas as they define their unique terroir. We follow the same format of declaring either Annapolis Valley, Gaspereau Valley or sometimes the larger geographic area, Nova Scotia, when the two areas (and a small new grower in Cape Breton) are blended.
We add dosage, called expedition liquour in France, to our traditional method sparkling wines when we disgorge. The goal is to balance acidity and quality enhancement -think of dosage as a thread that weaves all the components of sparkling wine together. We declare it on the back label in grams per litre (g/l) and it gives the buyer an indication of sweetness. For example Brut is a designation for sparklings that are between 0-15 g/l dosage, which most of our wines fall under. Remember that if the base wine had elevated acidity, which is not uncommon in our cool climate, the corresponding dosage might be high as well, but the taste might not be perceived as sweet.
We recently added a statement on our back label, "Suitable for vegan diets", after many of our fans asked for it. This means that we do not use any animal products in our wine - a practice that we have been following for many years.
These five pieces of information that we include on our labels are not required but we choose to include them to inform the buyer. I hope you find this useful next time you pick up a bottle of our organic wine.
Social media is humming with the release of a self-declared “clean wine” from celebrity Cameron Diaz and her partner. The issue in the wine world is that if her wine is “clean” then what does that make all other wines? She exposes 70 ingredients that her wine doesn’t have – a vegan, organic rose and white wine grown in Spain and made in France.
First of all, thanks to Cameron Diaz for initiating conversation about organic wines and I want to share the story behind our clean wine. It’s not just marketing buzz, it’s about passion and knowledge to follow a difficult path of commitment, transparency and traceability that is certified by government-led inspections. I’ve been at this a long time, first making organic wine as a BC winemaker and now for my own winery in NS, the first in the province. We promote our wines simply for what they are – certified organic symbol on the label along with other geeky transparent information such as dosage amounts, and that they are appropriate for vegan diets. We also talk about reasons why we farm and make wine that way – environment, terroir flavours, health. So maybe we should change this marketing direction? Instead of just talking about the natural inputs used in organic production, maybe what we don’t use? Such as, no glyphosates aka the weed killer Roundup. And no systemic pesticides that protect the vine from within. The residual ends up in your wine, and contact pesticides can leave residual as well, even if you wash grapes prior to pressing, which is not common practice. And talk about the animal aspects of growing and making wine. Not only do we not use animal inputs in our wine but also none in our vineyards – vegan agriculture.
We also don’t talk about all the ingredients and practices that can go into making conventional wines: gelatin, gum arabic, sorbic acid and other preservatives, colour, tannins, nutrients to name a few are all added to wines around us. We have been following our clean wine path for a long time and our enlightened fans understand the hard work that goes into making quality organic wine. So thank you Cameron Diaz for initiating the dialogue.
As we all embrace the new realities, I wanted to share with you our news and plans. More than ever we want you to know that you can trust our high quality certified organic wines that have the integrity and traceability of the Canada Organic symbol on each bottle.
Caitlin, our new vineyard manager, has been busy all winter pruning and tying, and her skills are showing with the growth we have had since budbreak. This milestone was a little late compared to normal but earlier than 2019, which had enough heat units to fully ripened grapes for sparkling and white wines. She has been getting to know our new grape hoe implement on the tractor as we cultivate and change our cover crop to manage our living soils and biodiversity.
Since March we have been bottling wines with social distancing and within our family bubble to maintain safety for our employees. I'm happy to report that 2019 Estate L'Acadie and Rose are on their way to the NSLC to fill the shelves again after being empty from the low crop of the 2018 frost-affected season. And there are many new exciting releases to announce on our social media channels later this year!
We have been offering curbside pickup by appointment and local deliveries during the pandemic to fulfill email and phone orders, and expect to expand to online sales with our new website. We are very excited about our web design and hope that you will enjoy the new features! Pickup and deliveries are now offered everyday 11-4pm.
Our reopening will follow Nova Scotia government requirements as they provide us with updates. Top consideration is the safety of our employees and family as well as yours. Private crush pad tastings and purchasing will be by required appointment starting June 19 for limited group sizes, only one group at a time. lacadievineyardsappts The tasting area will be sanitized, glassware will be washed to safe sanitizing temperatures and not handled before you pick up your tasting glass (no hand polishing this year). Entry into the wineshop will be allowed soon, once we evaluate our initial opening and cautiously prepare to ensure safety.
You'll notice familiar faces at the winery this year with Mike, (Uncle) Ian, our children Michael and Sydney and newly hired Megan. Social distancing will be practiced and they'll pop on their masks as required. Please bring your own mask for additional safety.
We look forward to seeing you at the winery this season!
Bruce, Pauline and family.