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Meet your winemaker 

Six of Nova Scotia’s winemakers take time from their harvests to share what they do, like and think when they aren’t fulfilling their Dionysian calling

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Bruce Ewert

L’Acadie Vineyards

Hometown: Vancouver, BC

Years of experience: 28th harvest, 10th at L'Acadie

Places he's made wine: BC, Ontario, California, Australia

What did you want to do as a profession when you were a kid? Engineer. "I was always interested in how things worked."

What's your favourite grape varietal? "L'Acadie Blanc has versatility and expressiveness in different soils."

What do you listen to at work? "CBC in the winery, playlist in the vineyard."

Favourite city in the world? "It's a toss-up between Vancouver and Halifax, both are on the ocean."

What is your favorite spot in Nova Scotia? “Clam Harbour Beach.”

Favorite city in the world, and why? “It’s a toss up between Vancouver and Halifax, both are on the ocean.”

Favorite Halifax restaurant? “Heartwood on Quinpool.”

What's your biggest fear? "That Nova Scotia becomes known for artificially carbonated wines."

What's the bravest thing you've ever done? "Establishing a winery in Nova Scotia. Left a head winemaker job in BC to pioneer Nova Scotia sparkling, and the first organic winery."

What is your biggest pet peeve in winemaking? "Deceptive labelling."

Who inspires you in your work, or your life? “My family.”

What do you wish could happen to the local wine industry? "Stricter quality standards."

Death row meal? “Scallop Carbonara, lobster, roasted vegetables and [L’Acadie Vineyards] Prestige Brut.”


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Jean-Benoit Deslauriers

Benjamin Bridge

Hometown: Saint-Bruno, QC

Years of experience: 11th harvest, sixth with Benjamin Bridge

Places he's made wine: California, Chile

What is your favourite grape varietal? "Mourvedre, the ultimate x-factor in just about any blend it goes in."

What would be your desert island soundtrack? “The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place by Explosions in the Sky”

What is your favourite spot in Nova Scotia? "Hall's Harbour, for the sunsets and the beach fires."

When you sit down for a drink at night, which local would it most likely be?

Favorite Halifax restaurant? “enVie.”

"A Sea Level pale ale or summer blonde."

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job? "Its false importance. Maybe this very [questionnaire] is a by-product of that misconception. A school bus driver would be the exact opposite—little perceived importance, but so much at stake."

Tell me something that would surprise me about you. "My burning passion for wine doesn't obstruct my reason—I don't deny the fact that the global fascination for wine is very arbitrary and subjective. It was a lot cooler to collect coins and stamps in 1983."

Which is the most precious bottle in your cellar? "1978 [Chateau] Mouton [Rothschild]. I'm not a Bordeaux enthusiast at all, but this one is coincidently from my birth year, an inheritance from my grandmother—a true renaissance woman."


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Jonathan Rodwell

director of winemaking and viticulture at Jost Vineyards and Devonian Coast Wineries

Hometown: Salisbury, England

Years of experience: 37th harvest, first at Jost Vineyards and Devonian Coast

Places he's made wine: France, California, Chile, Italy, England, Slovenia

What did you want to do when you were a kid? "I wanted to be like my grandfather who was retired. I wanted to bypass the work part and spend my days puttering about in the workshop."

What do you listen to while at work? "Not to music—I always enjoy experiencing the peace of place, being alone both in the vineyard and in the wine cellar."

Favourite Halifax restaurant? "Too early, but on my first night in Halifax I was invited to The Press Gang, which was a great introduction to Nova Scotia."

What is your favourite piece of clothing? "A shawl-type cardigan my wife knitted for me when we first met."

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job? "I drink wine from morning till evening."

What do you wish could happen to the local wine industry? "Greater confidence in growing the potential of Nova Scotia's vineyards."

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you’d buy or do? Buy my wife an engagement ring.

Which is the most precious bottle in your cellar? "A wine my daughter made for me in a school project in Italy when she was about six years old."


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Simon Rafuse

Blomidon Estate Winery

Hometown: Halifax

Years of experience: Ninth harvest, sixth at Blomidon

Places he's made wine: France, New Zealand, Nova Scotia

What was your job before you became a winemaker? "I worked in wine retail beforehand. All my jobs post-university have been pretty wine-ish."

What is your favourite grape varietal? "It's got to be Nebbiolo. Drinking great Nebbiolo is an emotional experience."

What would be your desert island soundtrack? "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by the Wu-Tang Clan, but if I'm allowed to pick a best-of, The Best of A Tribe Called Quest."

Where is your favourite spot in Nova Scotia? "The south shore, Kejimkujik or the Tobeatic have to be my favourites. The landscapes are just stunning, and I love canoeing."

Favorite Halifax restaurant? “Morris East. I love their pizzas, especially the mushroom, and enchilada.”

Would you rather give up drinking (but still be able to taste and spit the wine you make) or give up winemaking? "I guess I'd have to give up winemaking. I've had too many good times drinking wine with friends and family to pass on that."

What is your biggest pet peeve in the winery or in winemaking? "Fruit flies. Little bastards."

Death row meal? "A black truffle omelette, fresh tomato sprinkled with sea salt and pepper, a baguette with fresh butter and a bottle of 2004 Ceretto Barbaresco Asili."

If you won the lottery, what the first thing you’d buy or do? “I’d buy a villa in the south of France, an Audi S3, and then head out on the road to fill my new cellar.”


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Gina Haverstock

Gaspereau Vineyards

Hometown: Port Hawkesbury

Years of experience: Eighth harvest at Gaspereau

Places she's made wine: Germany, France, Austria, New Zealand, Nova Scotia

What is your favourite grape varietal? "Riesling! It has such an ability to express the terroir of where it is grown."

What book changed your life? "Jancis Robinson's biography."

When you sit down for a drink at night, which local would you most likely have in hand? "If with supper, wine. If after work, beer. Every winemaker knows, it takes a lot of beer to make good wine."

What's the bravest thing you've done? "Changing my career path from doctor to winemaker. The bravest part was telling my Dad!"

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job? "That winemaking is about drinking wine, only, when really it is has more to do with cleaning and organizing."

Would you rather give up drinking (but still be able to taste and spit the wine you make) or give up winemaking? “Geez… I guess drinking.”

What do you wish you knew then that you know now? "If you don't fight for what you believe in, no one is going to for you."

Who inspires you in your work, or your life? “My brother Garth always inspire me not to sweat the little stuff. Being happy, healthy and surrounded by people to love, and who love you back, is it what really counts.”

Which is the most precious bottle in your cellar? "There are some lovely sentimental bottles in there, but the 1993 Chateau Palmer and a 1971 Sauternes we received from our Swiss friends as a wedding gift."


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Mike Mainguy

Luckett Vineyards

Hometown: Mississauga, ON

Years of experience: 20 years total (home winemaking), six at Luckett Vineyards

Places he's made wine: Nova Scotia, Ontario

What is your favourite grape varietal? "Riesling. It's always just so delicious, and so defining. I would love to make it again."

Which album would be your desert island soundtrack? "It's a tie between Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and Quebec by Ween—both are stunningly perfect."

What do you listen to while at work? "The poetic sounds of Pete [Luckett], charming up the old ladies, and working the room like a champion."

Where is your favourite spot in Nova Scotia? "The view from our [grape] crush pad. Nothing beats it."

Which part of the province do you live in? "Port Williams, wisely dubbed 'The P-Willie' by winemaker Simon Rafuse."

Favorite Halifax restaurant? “Chives.”

Who inspires you in your work, or your life? "My wife Gillian. She has something like 15 jobs, so, most of the time, I am just trying not to look like a slacker."

What is your biggest pet peeve in the winery or in winemaking? "Closed-minded negative tasters and over-opinionated armchair experts."

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job? “No one realizes how much, and how hard, we actually work to create what we create until they’ve done it themselves.”

Tell me something that would surprise me about you. "When no one is around I like to sing to my barrels."

Which is the most precious bottle in your cellar? "My most precious bottle is one of the first wines I made with my brother, in our basement, over 20 years ago. It was just terrible."

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