Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley will get a new research facility, built solely to help local vineyards craft the best wine possible.
The federal government issued a tender on Feb. 12 for the lab’s construction, which should be finished within the next few months.
The Kentville Research and Development Centre already does wine research, but in a very “ad-hoc” way, said Jamie Coffin, engineer with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The project will turn part of that facility into a dedicated wine research lab.
The end goal is to help vineyards grow “better grapes which will carry those attributes into better tasting wine,” said Coffin, who’s in charge of the overall project.
While they know where the research will be done, the exact scope of that research is still being determined.
“Our senior advisers and director general are meeting with the private sector on a regular basis to see what sort of research is needed in the area,” said Coffin.
In recent years, the Nova Scotian wine industry has grown in value and prestige. In 2015, the industry generated $15.4 million in sales. In 2016, that went up to $17.5 million. Nova Scotian wines have also garnered national and international attention in competitions.
Domaine de Grand Pré’s Tidal Bay won gold in the 2012 All Canadian Wine Championships. In 2007, an entry from L’Acadie Vineyards was the only North American wine to receive honours at a French competition called Effervescents du Monde.
Both the federal government and the provincial government are working to expand Nova Scotia’s wine industry. Nova Scotia’s plan gives up to $8,050 per acre to help wineries expand. The goal is to grow the combined acreage of Nova Scotia’s wineries to 1,000 acres by 2020. In 2015, wineries cultivated just over 600 acres.
The federal government contribution to the project is between $1.8-$1.9 million, estimates Coffin.
“It’s great that the government is putting money into the industry,” said Janine Radul, director of sales at Planters Ridge, a winery in Port Williams, N.S.
Construction companies have until Feb. 27 to apply to the tender.