How Climate Change May Help Nova Scotia's Wine Industry Flourish

Grapes are displayed at Petite Riviere Vineyards in Crousetown, N.S. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Researchers are testing how 'exotic' varietals would fare in the province's Annapolis Valley

Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.

Scientists in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley say climate change is actually benefiting the burgeoning local wine industry.

Researchers at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Kentville, N.S., are in the midst of lab tests to find out whether certain so-called "exotic" grapes — those typically only grown in southern Europe — may soon thrive in a warming Annapolis Valley.

Local vineyards are already testing out some "sensitive varieties," such as Rieslings, Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, said scientist Harrison Wright.

"Those are going in the ground like they never have been before here," he said. "We used to not grow a large amount of that."

As moderate temperatures hit the Annapolis Valley's unique microclimate, researchers want to know if those grapes will flourish and eventually become commercially viable in Nova Scotia.

Researchers with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have collected vines from 10 different vineyards across Nova Scotia and will be testing how they do in colder temperatures.

"A few people might have dabbled in it," Wright said. "But now more and more people are planting larger acreages of them, because we do have more heat in the summer and less-harsh winters on average."

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