Going out on a vine L’Acadie Vineyards – certified organic and certified vegan winery
L’Acadie Vineyards is a certified organic and certified vegan winery in Nova Scotia, an emerging wine region on Canada’s east coast. Founder Bruce Ewert moved from a highly successful winemaking career in established wines regions in Canada, California and Australia to pioneer their family’s winery in 2004, the ninth winery in the region and the first to release sparkling wine.
“It was a pretty gutsy move to leave an established career to re-locate to Nova Scotia and start producing traditional method sparkling wines,” says Ewert, Owner and Winemaker, L’Acadie Vineyards. “No one had done it yet but we identified that the region had ideal climatic conditions for the style. My wife has 9 generations here and anyone who has been to Nova Scotia understands the lure to move home.”
What may be described as a “gutsy” move has translated into unqualified success. L’Acadie Vineyards’ 2007 Prestige Brut was awarded a silver medal in 2011 at Effervescents du Monde Prestige, an international sparkling wines competition held in France. And again for 2010 Prestige Brut Estate at 2015 Effervescents du Monde. These and other significant international awards encouraged other wineries to produce sparkling wine, evolving the region into a sparkling wine mecca.
“O” is for organic and vegan
Finding the right property took some time but eventually Ewert and his wife discovered ideal rocky soil with very good drainage in Gaspereau Valley, a pocket valley within the well-known Annapolis Valley. The area is known for farming, especially apples, but their thirty acre piece of paradise had no conventional farming for half a decade. They could follow through on their plans to be organic – the first certified organic winery in the region.
“We decided to go organic right from the beginning,” explains Ewert. “For one, it’s a lifestyle factor for us. That’s how we live. Also, I had experience with wines made from organically grown grapes and found the taste to be incredibly intense.”
Ewert suggests that organically grown grapes tend to be more flavourful for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the soil micro-organisms around the vine’s roots.
“Our practices encourage growth of these micro-organisms to help the vines take up flavours of the soil. Terroir is a term to describe a wine’s sense-of-place, a combination of soil, micro-climate and other factors” he explains, adding that the winery’s success can also be attributed to their enhanced terroir flavours of mineral and slight saline from their ancient seabed soil.
According to Ewert, being organic isn’t necessarily more complicated; it means you have fewer choices. “The toolkit for organic winemaking is definitely lighter in that you don’t have as many options as conventional,” he explains. “As a result, you have to pro-act on things, such as ensuring you have good air circulation, planting cover crops and appropriate grape varieties, and encourage biodiversity. It means setting things up so you don’t have to rely on chemical pesticides and fertilizers”
In 2020, L’Acadie Vineyards became the first farm and winery in North America to become certified Biocyclic Vegan.
“Vegan wine certification is a significant addition to our environmental stewardship, scaffolding the benefits of our certified organic status to new heights. Coupled with health benefits and animal welfare, you can see why it is so popular in Europe”
“We had been looking for a certification for our vegan wines and were so happy when we found Biocyclic Vegan International based out of Germany and Greece. We discovered that they certify the whole operation including the vineyard as well, and ours scored very high because of organic practices, biodiversity and not using animal inputs since 2017.”
A sparkling future
Ewert hopes for more organic and vegan agriculture in the world – “it is better for people, animals and the planet.” He recommends that the motivation should come from the heart, since it is more work and riskier. “The long-term benefit is a strengthening of our vineyard’s climate change resilience. In Nova Scotia we are starting to experience more variable weather such as drought, hurricanes and warmer summers and winters. Cover crops to protect the soil and healthy vines in an ecosystem of diversity makes us stronger.”
He adds that wine styles that suit a region’s climate are always the best approach, like sparkling wine from Nova Scotia. “You can’t make world-class sparkling in hot climates – it is our niche. The best wines of the world come from regions that have learned and adapted to their unique terroir, matching their practices and wines to what Mother Nature gives them”
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