N.B. wine industry hoping to celebrate vintage year
New Brunswick is generally not known for its winemaking, but that seems to be changing.
Wineries in the province are expanding and awards are starting to roll in. New Brunswick now boasts 10 wineries and over 100 acres of vineyards.
“We say we're an emerging wine industry,” says Janet Everett of the Magnetic Hill Winery. “Originally five of us started and most of us were fruit wine.”
Everett says that’s because grapes were hard to grow, with the season being short due to harsh winters. But some research in the United States has helped the industry grow.
“The University of Minnesota, they've been doing all this great creation of hybrids that will survive our cold temperatures,” says Everett.
The Magnetic Hill Winery is now growing five acres of grapes and they're buying another 28 acres from local vineyards. Their production facilities are also expanding from 1,000 square feet to 10,000.
Another boost to the industry will come later in October, with the Wine and Food Expo now entering its 27th year. There will be 300 wines on this year’s list, with 30 per cent being from New Brunswick.
It will be the largest selection of New Brunswick wines ever featured at the festival.
“We're going to put through about 5,000 people on the weekend and that's 5,000 people who have seen New Brunswick wines in grocery stores. But for the first time we’ll get a chance to taste 30 different wines and hopefully have a really great experience,” says Bill Vance, vice-president of the World Wine and Food Expo.
Vance says the New Brunswick wine industry is valued between $7 million and 10 million a year in terms of grapes grown, which includes winemaking and grape exporting.
Vance says Nova Scotia is 10 or 20 years ahead in terms of organization, promotion and production.
“The question is not can we catch up in 10 or 20 years, but can we catch up much sooner than that,” says Vance.
One potential market worth pursuing is China.
“I know there have been some New Brunswick wineries that have been reaching out to China, attempting to establish an export market, but boy, if we can get our toe in the door over there, there'll be nothing but financial boon for all the wine makers here,” says Vance.
Vance believes that would mean continued growth for an industry that is just starting to realize its potential.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.