Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Nova Scotia Vineyards

December 2017 Blog
Spotted Bear Vineyards & Lavender Farm
Polson, Montana

            Well, we are just a week away from the winter solstice.  We have had some cold nights in the 20’s and hopefully the grape vines are asleep and will stay so until spring.  We always fear a warm spell in March,  that awakens them, only to have a frigid spell which has the potential to kill the vines. Let’s hope that’s not the case in 2018.  We sprayed the soil on October 18th with a boron solution that should make up for the lack of this element in our soil around Flathead Lake.  We are speculating that the boron deficiency might have something to do with the underdeveloped berries in our clusters, sometimes called “shot berries” and look forward to next year’s harvest being the perfect grape clusters that we recently saw in Nova Scotia.  Our final bursts of energy at the vineyard this season were spent planting 400 garlic bulbs in late October, 100 orange tulip bulbs and adding 25 more haskap bushes.  The tulips consisted of “Princess Irene” and “King’s Orange” and were purchased from Van Engelen, Inc. (www.vanengelen.com ).  I can’t wait to see what they do come next spring!  If my calcualtions are correct they should bloom just before the magnificient poppy display in May.  The haskap bushes were shipped from, “Prairie Plant Systems” (http://prairieplant.com/ ) in Saskatoon, SK. Canada.  Our first haskaps should be producing berries next summer and I am looking forward to the juice and jam and perhaps even wine, that they will provide us.
Vineyard Autumn 2017
            Other exciting news from this autumn is that we now have a legal and delightful vacation rental cabin in the vineyard.  We went through the application process and received an accommodation license from the state of Montana.  Shortly thereafter, I registered on the VRBO website and now our rental is filling up already for next summer!  If you want to take a look at our VRBO listing, our number is 1168269.  This cabin should afford people a quiet retreat on Finley Point and also facts and information about a working vineyard.
Spotted Bear Vacation Rental
            In late October, we took an incredible trip to Nova Scotia, to enjoy the area and to research the L’Acadie Blanc grape which is an important variety in the growing wine industry there.  We drove to Calgary, and then flew to Halifax.  We had been advised to stay at the Waverly Inn in Halifax by a friend of a friend, and I am so glad we followed that advice (http://waverleyinn.com/) .  The historic inn was located centrally and everything that we wanted to see was within walking distance.  By taking a taxi to the hotel and picking up our car rental downtown and not at the airport, we saved enough money to stay at the inn and have a great seafood dinner downtown.  The next day we headed south to the seacoast town of Lunenburg and of course had another incredible dinner of mussels and seafood. The next day, after just heading west out of town, we stopped in Mahone Bay at the Haskapa store. (https://haskapa.com/ ).  I lost my mind, and purchased haskap tea, a maple and haskap syrup, haskap juice, and some dried haskap berries.  It was great reading up on the story behind the berries and the incredible antioxidant benefits that they contain.  Hopefully, these will be products that are available at our vineyard next fall.
            This same day we drove to the Annapolis Valley which is the home of the award winning vineyards that Nova Scotia is becoming so famous for showcasing.  We stayed in Wolfville and toured the Gaspereau Vineyards, Grand Pré Vineyards,  and L’Acadie Vineyards.  We were unable to see all the vineyards on this trip but will certainly go back to see Jost,  Blomidon, Luckett and others. Each vineyard that we visited was interested in the fact that we were growing the L’Acadie Blanc grape in the states and they were more than helpful in answering our questions about growing concerns. The L’Acadie Vineyard is an organic endeavor and talking to the owner, Bruce Ewart, (https://www.facebook.com/lacadievineyards/)  was very informative.
            We picked up a copy of “Halifax Curated Food & Drink Magazine,” (Vol. 6 Issue 23) which featured an article on Mr. Ewart and L’Acadie Vineyards and found an interesting article on how an area’s appellation wine is created.  I will try to include the article at the end of this blog, however, basically an area chooses a name.  “Tidal Bay” is the name that the Annapolis Valley chose due to the spectacular boreal tides that are found there at the Bay of Fundy.  To qualify for the Tidal Bay Appellation, a local vineyard subjects one of their wines to a blind tasting of approved judges to make sure the wine follows prescribed rules and strict standards. It must be a light white wine that has bright aromatics and a level of acidity.  All the grapes that go into the wine must be farmed in Nova Scotia.  We have forwarded this concept of an appellation wine to the Montana Grape Growers Association and hope to create an appellation here that compliments the Montana grape growers’ efforts and the Marquette grape which is popular in the region. 
Ken checking the grapes at Gaspereau

            I would have like to spend more time in Nova Scotia and plan on going back in the future, but the time came to move on to Prince Edward Island.  We took the ferry over and enjoyed a few days of beach combing and exploring that was easy to do in late October.  In too short a time, we headed over the Confederation Bridge and on to a few more adventures in Québec City.
            The time finally came to fly back to Calgary, but we were in no frame of mind to go home right away after such an incredible trip.  We prolonged our visit and got to enjoy a Calgary Flames game at the Saddledome as they beat Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburg Penguins in overtime. We made it home by the second week in November and unfortunately the weather cooperated and we were able to prune red dogwood and copious amounts of brush in the vineyard. We will be burning all spring at this rate.
            The pumpkins are in the root cellar and the jellies are all canned and in the barn.  It’s finally time to sit back and enjoy some family time around the holidays and start perusing all those seed catalogs that I seem to be getting earlier and earlier each year.

A link to the "Tidal Bay Rising" article in "Halifax Curated" mentioned above:

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