Although grape growing in Nova Scotia has been tied to early French settlers in Annapolis County during the 1600s, the present-day Nova Scotia wine industry is generally considered to have begun with the establishment of Grand Pré Vineyards by Roger Dial in the late 1970s. The original Grand Pré vineyard pioneered commercial wine grape production in Nova Scotia. Meanwhile the Jost family of Malagash established commercial plantings in the early 1980s and founder Hans Wilhelm Jost began to produce wine for the Nova Scotia market in the mid-1980s. Following his untimely death, the company was taken over by his son Hans Christian Jost in the early 1990s and grew to become the largest farm winery in Nova Scotia. The company, now owned by Carl and Donna Sparkes, has traditionally made wines that are both blends of Nova Scotia grapes with imported juice, along with one hundred per cent Nova Scotia products.
Through the 1990s the industry grew steadily with entrants including Sainte-Famille Winery of Falmouth, fruit wineries Lunenburg County Winery, Williamsdale Winery, and Telderberry Winery (the latter two now defunct), and Habitant Vineyards in Canning, the predecessor of the present-day Blomidon Estate Winery. Growth accelerated in the beginning of the 21st century with the development of Gaspereau Vineyards, Benjamin Bridge Vineyards, and Petite Riviere Vineyards. The year 2000 was also a milestone for wines in Nova Scotia as Jost Vineyards’ 1999 Vidal Icewine was declared “Canada’s Wine of the Year.” This kind of accomplishment enabled Nova Scotia to establish itself as a major player in the national wine industry scene, competing with major players such as Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.
By 2003 the Winery Association of Nova Scotia (WANS) was formed, and work began on a strategic vision for the industry along with an initial three-year marketing plan. WANS members soon agreed on a vision that would see 20 wineries and 1,000 acres of vines under cultivation by the year 2020.
Today, Nova Scotia boasts over 70 grape growers and more than 600 acres under vine, supporting 15 wineries spread across the province from Cape Breton to Bear River and from the LaHave River Valley to the shores of the Northumberland Strait.