Bear River vintners had a spectacular start
By BILL SPURR Features Writer, Chronicle Herald
Despite the loss of ferry service to Yarmouth, it’s full speed ahead for Annapolis Highlands Vineyard.
The Bear River winery, owned by Brendan and Karen Enright, opened for its second season this weekend, after selling virtually everything it produced in its first harvest.
For 2009, Annapolis Highlands has tripled production.
“We had much more volume on our own vines, we had a great (2009) growing season, and we also bought our limit from other growers,” said Karen, at a dinner held to launch the ’09 vintages.
The couple moved to Nova Scotia from Ontario nine years ago, settling in the western part of the Valley because the area reminded Brendan of his native Ireland.
Last year’s quick start caught the couple off guard, even after winning a pair of awards at the first Atlantic Canadian wine competition — silver for Pinot Gris and a bronze forDeChaunac.
“When we opened last year we didn’t know if anybody would find us,” Karen said. “But we had 4,000 people through our doors in the first two months, and part of that was because we were the newest winery and we won two medals last year. Bear River is a very well-travelled area. There was already one winery here, so having the second one brought even more people.”
“With the Yarmouth ferry, which is gone now, combined with the Digby ferry, we were essentially the western gateway to the Annapolis Valley wine region,” added Brendan. “So we had a lot of people stopping at our place first, which surprised us. We thought everyone would be coming from Halifax, and would be jaded . . . by the time they got to our place. It seemed very much the reverse.”
The 2009 vintage of the Pinot Gris, which is the house white at Rudders restaurant in Yarmouth, was very well received at last week’s launch, so much so that onesommelier asked the Enrights if it’s really made with 100 per cent Nova Scotia grapes. It is.
The winery’s Highland Blue is primarily made from low bush blueberries, combined with Cabernet Franc grapes. The Enrights said they’re not a bit reluctant to make fruit wine.
“I think there used to be a stigma about fruit wines as opposed to grape wines, and I think that’s all changing, especially with the likes of blueberries and cranberries,” Karen said. “They’re Nova Scotia fruits and people are very, very willing to try them.”
Annapolis Highlands wines are available at private wine stores in Halifax, The Pines and White Point Beach resorts, and restaurants like the Five Fishermen, Acton’s and Atlantica Hotel.