Bruce Ewert, who along with his wife Pauline Scott owns L’Acadie Vineyards, was excited to be one of three finalists for the 2013 Farm Environmental Stewardship Award. – Kirk Starratt, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Kirk Starratt
For an award-winning winemaker in the Gaspereau Valley, a commitment to organic farming is all about environmental stewardship.
The dedication of Bruce Ewert and wife Pauline Scott of L’Acadie Vineyards to organic practices has led to an international award for their sparkling wine. Earlier this year, they were also named finalists for the 2013 Farm Environmental Stewardship Award.
Although they didn’t win the environmental stewardship award, Ewert said the nomination would help raise awareness of their products and get more people buying organic wine. More people are becoming concerned with what is in their food and making the decision to eat and drink organic, he said.
For Ewert, organic farming isn’t about capitalizing on a trend or a whim; it’s about environmental stewardship and making the best wine. Ewert said L’Acadie has been organic since the inception. He and Scott have teenage children who are becoming more involved in the operation and they want family continuity in their business.
“I’ve made wine for a long time,” Ewert said. “I think better wine is made from healthy soil.”
Ewert produced award-winning wines for leading British Columbia wineries, including an organic winery, before he and Scott decided to move back to Nova Scotia to begin their own organic vineyard and winery.
He said L’Acadie is the first winery in the province to be certified organic and it remains the only organic winery, as far as he knows. There will soon be more organic wine from L’Acadie on store shelves for consumers to enjoy. Ewert said they’ve engaged four other growers to produce organic grapes for them.
“This past vintage, our total crop of organic grapes is up 50 per cent with the growers and the estate,” Ewert said.
This translates to wine production being doubled. He wants Nova Scotia to be known as Canada’s “green viticulture” region.
Aside from avoiding pesticides and other chemicals, there is another major benefit of organic winemaking: the taste. Ewert said the organisms living in the rocky, mineral-laden ground of their vineyard help with the uptake of flavours from the soil.
Although they make still wine as well, their specialty is sparkling wine. Ewert said it takes expertise and specialized equipment to produce sparkling wine.
“You have to conquer still wine before you can make the bubbly,” he said.
Ewert said Nova Scotia has received a lot of recognition for its sparkling wine. For example, L’Acadie won a silver medal at a competition in France in 2011 for their 2007 Prestige Brut. The Valley, he said, has the right climate for sparkling wine and it’s quite impressive to win an award like that in champaign’s backyard.
The Farm Environmental Stewardship Award is part of the Environmental Farm Plan Program created through a partnership among the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Nova Scotia Environmental Farm Plan Team and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. This year, Siegmar and Gilberte Doelle of Wild Rose Farm in Digby County won the award.
About L’Acadie’s environmental commitment
- L’Acadie Vineyard treats the soil like a living organism. Composted manure, mulches, compost teas and seaweed extracts are added to enrich the soil and maintain healthy microbial life and earthworm populations.
- Energy conservation is a top priority for L’Acadie. The winery features geothermal heating, cooling and hot water systems. The roof is made of reflective material and the foundation is made with insulated concrete. Natural light and energy efficient fluorescent lighting is used in the building. Bottles are purchased in bulk to reduce packaging and transportation waste.
- Owners Bruce Ewert and Pauline Scott also have an 18-acre woodland bio-reserve. A neighbouring flock of sheep grazes through the vineyard. Bird netting is used to protect grapes instead of noise controls.
- Kathryn Bremner, lead co-ordinator for the Nova Scotia Environmental Farm Plan Program, said L’Acadie demonstrates true environmental stewardship. There aren’t many environmental issues to address on the farm because Ewert and Scott have managed the farm in an environmentally-conscious manner from the start.