One by one, the wineries in Kings County are opening for the season, and a brand new one, Planters Ridge near Port Williams, is close to starting operation.
Luckett Winery, located atop Wallbrook Mountain, has added a new retail space this year. Entirely glass-fronted, it was designed by Kings South MLA Keith Irving, who drew plans for the original structure.
Near Canning, the Blomidon Estate Winery has a new shop and patio under construction. Spokesperson Sara Fanning says it will be completed in late June or early in July.
Both offer visitors award-winning wines and stellar views across Kings County.
Patrick Sullivan, chief executive officer of the province’s tourism agency, says there’s no doubt that rich wine and culinary opportunities are attracting visitors to the Valley.
“We’re feeling pretty good about the season,” he said, based on the number of web visits from New Englanders, while acknowledging that much depends on the weather.
He added that in the 700,000 calendars his agency has produced, this region is featured prominently. Television promotions move around the province, but all of them, Sullivan says, are a reminder to go out and enjoy all the options in Nova Scotia.
Boosting tourism priority for AVCC
The Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce (AVCC) is gearing up to boost tourism in the region this summer.
After all, as Heather Leeman, co-chair of the tourism committee points out, the industry is a huge economic driver for the area.
She says the return of a ferry to Yarmouth is important this year, with a potential of 100,000 more visitors. However, the major market for the Valley is greater Halifax.
“It’s up to us to market our region,” said the co-owner of the Tattingstone Inn in Wolfville. “It’s up to the Nova Scotia government to market the province as a whole.”
Leeman and Loretta Buchanan, her co-chair, plan to use $100,000 from the province and $20,000 from the County of Kings to fund a multi-media campaign. They organized a Valley contingent to take part in the Saltscapes Expo in Halifax last month.
Buchanan, who manages the Slumber Inn in New Minas, says that over 1,000 jobs in Kings County are directly tied to tourism. She noted that most hostelries have a 30 to 35 per cent occupancy rate currently.
“We need to get business into this region. There needs to be more nights that we’re turning people away,” she said.
Buchanan said they hope to develop an interactive map and a smart phone app for visitors that will help them find attractions and accommodations. A wine festival is being developed for September, as well as a website and video component.
Patrick Sullivan, the province’s tourism head, says the AVCC has clearly stepped up to the void left by the dissolution of Destination South West Nova.
The work of the sub-committee, he added, is timely because the first cruiser ships of the season have already docked at the port of Halifax.
Sullivan added that he is looking forward to working with the committee.
Wolfville had already decided not to fund the committee. A request was made last fall for $10,000, while Kentville has not yet completed its budget process.