New program trains next generation of Atlantic winemakers
'We have a lot of natural acidity in our soil here and that goes into the grapes'
A new program at the Nova Scotia Community College in Kentville, N.S., is shaping the next winemakers of Atlantic Canada.
The Cool Climate Wine and Viticulture program at the Kingstec campus is wrapping up its first year. Students learn how to manage a vineyard, how to operate winery equipment and make wine — and then how to sell it.
"It's the first time a program like this has been in place," winemaking instructor Bruce Ewert told CBC's Information Morning.
"These students will be part of the infrastructure building of a very solid foundation for the growth of our wine region."
Jerusha Young-Connor was one of the first students to take the new program.
"I really like how much hands-on work we get to do," she said. "We're not just sitting in the class learning about how to make wine, we're in the cellar actually doing it."
Young-Connor decided to take the program after her family planted a vineyard three years ago.
"We learn how to grow the grapes, we follow them all the way through the season, we harvest them, we make the wine from them," she said.
"One thing that's really unique in Nova Scotia wines is the acidity, we have a lot of natural acidity in our soil here and that goes into the grapes."
Ewert said cool climate wines are considered flavourful and students focused on making sparkling whites, crisp whites and rosés.
"We're taking advantage of what Mother Nature has given us and doing the styles that suit our climate," he said.
For their final project, students had to make their own wine.
But Ewert noted the Valley was hit with a huge frost in June 2018 that affected local fruits, vegetables and the wine industry.
"We had to phone our friends at Niagara College to buy a little bit of wine from them to make up for what we couldn't grow in our vineyard," he said.
"So the students made blends using Nova Scotia grapes and Ontario wine. We have academic marks on the labels, they kind of read like a report card, and those wines became names such as Pen Pal and Exchange Student."
The one-year program will take its next batch of students in January.
With files from the CBC's Information Morning