The morning my family and I drove to the valley to visit Luckett Vineyards was sparklingly sunny and warming quickly into a lovely summer day. The drive out had been perfect – the baby slept in the back seat while we sipped our coffees. Soon we were climbing the steep incline leading to Pete Luckett’s most recent foray beyond the grocery business that has made him an icon among Nova Scotia foodies.
As we turned into the property we were stunned by amazing views of lush valley farmland stretching into the Bay of Fundy. As the morning progressed, I kept finding myself looking out towards the vast expanse and marveling at the beauty of the vineyard’s location. This incredible vista alone was worth the trip out from the city.
Upon entering the main building of the winery, Stephanie, one of the vineyard’s knowledgeable staff, offered us a chilled glass of apple cranberry wine. Sweet and tart all in one mouthful, it evoked images of garden brunches and beach picnics.
We were soon joined by Pete himself, who carried with him just the sort of lively energy you might expect from the owner of four grocery stores and a vineyard, managed alongside countless other side projects.
We sat outside on the patio overlooking the long slope down to the Fundy shores while Pete told us the story of this 100 acre plot of land that he bought 12 years ago. He explained that he and his wife had decided to move out to the valley for a lifestyle change, and that the winery was “something that just evolved.” Pete described having been involved in the food industry in just about every way imaginable, with the exception of agriculture. So it followed that four years after making the move he began to plant fruit trees and grape vines.
Under his watchful eye and a good dose of Nova Scotia warmth and sunshine, the bare acreage transformed into a haven of apple, pear, plum, cherry and peach trees alongside rows of high-bush blueberries and grapevines as far as the eye can see.
Luckett Vineyards opened in 2011 with a fleet of fourteen wines including rich reds, a wide variety of unique fruit wines, and several classic Nova Scotian whites, complete with a Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia’s appellation wine. Pete credits the creativity and passion of the winery’s staff, including Mike Mainguy, the winemaker, and Marcel Kolb, the vineyard manager, with Luckett Vineyards’ appealing selection.
The breezy patio is open every day for lunch and for dinner on the weekends with an enticing menu inspired by the freshest locally-sourced ingredients. The facility also offers their beautiful barrel room for meetings and functions.
As Stephanie brings us a flight of wines and a cheese board for pairing, a large white bus pulls in and a group of Red Hat Society ladies make their entrance on the patio for morning coffee. Pete leaps up to greet them enthusiastically and hand out a few complimentary glasses of apple cranberry wine, and they are clearly smitten by the view, Pete’s charm, and, I must admit, my darling little baby girl, Ada, who has been taking it all in with a smile on her face.
We dug into our mid-morning snack, starting with what Pete describes as a excellent “breakfast wine,” the sparkling apple blackcurrant wine. We tasted the L’Acadie, star of the winery’s upcoming L’Acadie Lobster Festival (July 21st), and sipped from a crisp, sweating glasses of Ortega.
We played with flavour combinations, pairing our wines with the exquisite selection on our cheese board, including slices of raw milk goat cheese and applewood smoked cheddar, a smear of blue cheese and a wedge of espresso encrusted cheddar.
Huge high-bush blueberries, leaves of arugula and rounds of pickled red onion were artfully laid on the board with some baguette, crackers, and chutney to round out the taste experience. I discovered that the floral and lychee notes of Luckett’s Muscat paired with earthy blue cheese in the way that made me want to sip and then taste, sip and then taste, until both were gone. We sampled sweet ice cider and a heady blackberry port, and then three of Lucketts’ beautiful reds.
By now it was time to walk off our libations, and so Pete led us on a tour of the facility. Down the sloping rows of vines in front of the patio stands an old fashioned red phone booth – “a bit of the old country,” as Pete describes.
The booth has become an icon for the Luckett Winery brand from which guests of the vineyard can make free calls to anywhere in North America. Ada took this opportunity to call her Gramma and Grampa in Manitoba to have a little chat/drool on the receiver (sorry in advance, future phone booth-users).
As morning turned into early afternoon, Ada let us know that we needed to turn our attention to diaper changes and a nap on the drive home. Before leaving, we perused through the huge wine selection in the main building and tried to narrow down our favourites. I imagine sipping a glass of Leon Millot paired alongside a homemade pizza made with sun-warmed tomatoes from our garden is likely in our future. I know that we will return to Luckett Vineyards again soon to take in the incredible view, food, wine, and hospitality.