The word “hypocrisy” comes to mind as I type this.
Last year; when James and I both worked together, I would tease him about being a hipster with his ‘trendy’ drinking habits and now I only ever drink (and find myself boasting about it) local liquor products. I roasted him for his Red Hot Chili Peppers obsession and now their entire discography is in my Google Play library. I did the same for him having a blog and now we’re at the point where I’m typing this for the very same blog. Funny how the world works and things come back to haunt you in certain ways!
Initially, this article was going to be about May’s instalment of ‘Tuesday Night Tastings’ (TNTs), the most wonderful event in the Nova Scotian wine industry, but I have decided that for my first post for Wined Up I am going to focus on how I view the New Scotland (Nova Scotia) wine industry and what the impact has been on the province I call home. Our theme for the this month’s TNT was rosé. I can honestly say that there wasn’t one that I hated. The Tuesday Night Tastings have been going on for a few years now but this year they have proven themselves to be stronger than ever. Our first one was Tidal Bay and, as someone who isn’t big on dry whites, was really impressed with them all/would buy any of them without second-guessing the decision. I’m sure I could make a lovely review of this month’s TNT because we make some fantastic rosés (they tend to be on the drier side of life and aren’t your sugar-rush style of pink-toned bachelorette party fuel), but I wanted this contribution to give some insight on my experiences since I’ve gotten to witness its growth as someone who has only ever lived in the region. It’s not very often one gets to see the birth and rise of such a phenomenal economic driver.
You can read more about Tuesday Night Tastings here.
However, I must take a moment to rave about the Pét-Nat (a style of sparkling wine, read our description of it here) that our beloved wine team brought out as a welcome wine. I’m slowly working my way into sparkling wines and this one definitely served as a catalyst for why I should continue to do so. The beauties behind the bottling (Winemaker, Mike Mainguy, and Assistant Winemaker/Sanity Manager, Kyla White) took our already great Rosetta (our signature blush) and make it even better. I’m excited to harass them about it until they either a) release it or b) quietly leave a case of it in my car in exchange for silence. If I’m being honest, I added this section just to see if that last sentence would come true. I promise a follow-up as that story develops.
My experience with wine is mostly hands-on. There’s no WSET or formal education to back it. I get asked if I’m a sommelier (read more about James’ thoughts on being asked if he was a somm here), but I just happen to be really good in my ability to sound confident in regurgitating facts and storytelling. It’s all been done by practical learning and marketing myself as some sort of controlled alcoholic. My third season of being in the industry has commenced and it’s been a lot of learning. James once said that wine is one of those things where there’s an exponential equation that reflects the ideology of “the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know”. Thankfully, there’s blogs like this for the amateur/intermediate enthusiast who’s seeking a more approachable way to learn about the world of fermented fruit. In fact, half of Wined Up and I even started a wine club that had every intention of being educational, but, like every other wine club, it quickly turned into an excuse to drink while sounding like the core value and classiness still existed. It either ended up with us listening to Interpol in the backyard or doing a pub-crawl in Wolfville. Wine drinking was involved, but the educational aspect was quickly abandoned for shenanigans.
This is an industry like no other. I was a manager at McDonald’s prior to this and witnessed us competing with, not only other restaurant chains but, stores within our own franchise. There were many times where it was very fucking intense. The wine side of things is the complete opposite. The picture above shows a room full of people who are in the same line of work with products of a similar type. Normally, you would think that it was absurd to be dining with the ‘enemy’, but we’re not like that. Competition is a word far from our vocabularies. Our goal isn’t to one-up the other vineyards; our main mission is to promote the industry as a whole and put us on the world stage. We’re like one big family who makes a point to have a reunion every month and catch-up with each other. I think the picture is great because everyone was so focused on the wine and mingling that they didn’t notice me doing some amateur photography. The only one who made note of me playing Peter Parker was the little one clinging to Gina Haverstock (Gaspereau Vineyard’s winemaker) whose smile is almost as big as the people indulging in the free booze.
We have a lot to be proud of. We’re the third official wine region for Canada, we have the most craft beer producers per capita, and our spirits have earned countless awards around the world. Before the liquor industry took off, we weren’t known for much. The province was a large retirement village. We were really only famous for our seafood industry and for producing episodes of a mockumentary (though there were times where it was more factual) called Trailer Park Boys. Now we’re all grown up and have a booming tourism sector. We see guests from all around the world who are amazed at what we’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. Nova Scotia is quickly becoming a top-ranking destination on people’s travel lists. It’s humbling, to say the least, and it just keeps growing with no end/ceiling/plateau in sight.
I’m trying to make this more informative, but I find that I keep making it personal. It’s too late to change it, so I guess I’ll continue with that streak.
While we’re still waiting for the lab results to confirm my theory, I have reason to believe that the wines and industry have medicinal properties. Prior to joining the public facing side of the wine world (I was in the office for my first season), I was considered an introvert. No one believes this story now and there’s times where I’m sure they’re begging for me to shut up/go back to it, so I’d say that’s a pretty significant flip. I preferred to keep to myself and be an anti-social little shut-in, so getting the offer of running the tasting bar was like getting accepted to be on Fear Factor (is that still a show/reference I can make?). There were equal parts exciting and frightening about it, but I’d like to think that I pulled through in the end. It’s been a hell of an adventure. I’ve met so many lovely people and sacrificed so many brain cells for another round of after-hours drinks, that it’d be hard to leave it. In fact, I tell people that abandoning all of this would be the toughest break-up of my life (trust me on having experience with those) and I think I’ve finally found an industry to base a career off of.
If you couldn’t tell, I have a lot of passion for what I do and love to talk about it. Unless I end up like a Fox TV show and get cancelled in my prime (This was written before NBC had picked Brooklyn nine-nine up), my future contributions will be a bit more informative and little less personal (though the rant level may stay the same). I’d like to thank the fine folks of Wined Up for trusting me to write something. It’s been a privilege to have this opportunity. We’ll see what we can do about getting a trans-Atlantic pipeline of Tidal Bay hooked up for you folks.
– D R E W