With its rich marine life and tantalising land-based food and drink adventures it’s a small wonder Eastern Canada’s province of Nova Scotia is such a sure-fire hit with lovers of gastronomy and the great outdoors.
Nova Scotia offers the perfect blend of natural wonders and gastronomic adventures and seldom is this more evident than on a road trip designed to showcase its wine, whales and whisky – an itinerary played out against spectacular backdrops such as Cape Breton and the Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides.
What’s more, thanks to online resources such as Tourism Nova Scotia’s handy ‘wine, whales and whisky’ map (www.novascotia.com/explore/road-trips/wine-whales-whisky) planning a trip couldn’t be simpler.
With a local history of grape growing dating back to the 1600s, top takeaways from the region’s myriad vineyards (www.novascotia.com/eat-drink/vineyards) include visiting celebrated suppliers such as Jost Vineyards on the Northumberland Shore; learning about the region’s unique terroir; and sampling Tidal Bay, the area’s appellation wine, only availlable in Nova Scotia.
A novel way of visiting a spread of options in the prime wine region of the Annapolis Valley include booking a place on the ‘hop-on, hop-off’ Magic Winery double decker bus service (www.magicwinerybus.ca), taking in up to five celebrated local vineyards. Tickets cost $50 per person for the service, which operates daily from Thursday through Sunday, departing from Willow Avenue in Wolfville at 10:30am, 11:30am and 12:30pm.
Other local drink-focused operators worth a look, not least for fans of craft ale breweries, include Yarmouth-based Wine and Beer Tours of Nova Scotia (www.wineandbeertoursnovascotia.com) and Halifax-based Grape Escapes Wine Tours (www.novascotiawinetours.com) and Taste Halifax Food & Beer Tours (www.halifaxfoodtours.com) .
The region also enjoys a long, celebrated history of whisky production and many make a beeline for a tour or stay at the Glenora Inn and Distillery. Located along Highway 19 in Glenville, it is said to have produced the first ever single malt whisky in North America.
That said, there many other local distilleries to choose from, and it’s not just about whisky either (www.novascotia.com/eat-drink/distilleries). These days local operators produce a wide range of spirits, catering to a dizzying range of tastes and palates, and many make good use of local ingredients, as in Steinhart Distillery’s maple syrup flavoured vodka and Ironworks Distillery’s pear-flavoured Pear Eau de Vie.
When it comes to viewing whales it’s full steam ahead for locations in the Bay of Fundy and northern Cape Breton where popular whale watching tours spirit visitors away from land-based pursuits such as traversing the Cabot Trail to within sight of the majestic creatures. Summer and autumn are the best times of the year to see the various species of whales, from fin, minke and humpbacks to the pods of Atlantic pilot whales which spend their summers feeding off the coast. Expeditions with Mariner Cruises Whale & Seabird Tours on Brier Island are narrated by local naturalists, who are well-versed in the dozens of marine mammals and bird species that visit the important ecological region of the Bay of Fundy (www.novascotiawhalewatching.ca/ ). So plentiful are the whales in fact that local specialist operators such as Oshan Whale Watch (https://oshan.ca/) in Bay St Lawrence, Cape Breton guarantee sightings. Sightings of dolphin, porpoises and all manner of birdlife further add to the unforgettable experience.