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Wednesday Warblings
The Environmental Impact of Producing a Bottle of Wine in Nova Scotia

By Charles Olken

I was drawn to a recent article by the above title not because I have much to say on the subject so much as I am fascinated by the topic of producing wine in Nova Scotia. It is cold up there. It is cold in the summer and seemingly impossible in the winter, although people do seem to live there and like it.

The fact is that I was drawn to the title because I recently vacationed (in the summer, thank you) in Nova Scotia, and I learned to my great surprise that there is a small but very active wine-growing community there. Now, I have to admit that I went in search of the coldest-water ocean seafood that one could find in our hemisphere. I grew up in Boston loving Maine lobster and Ipswich (north of Beantown) clams and cold-water scallops and Quahogs.

It my love affair with those items has not dimmed despite decades of living on the West Coast and loving our own seafoods like Tomales Bay oysters, Dungeness crabs, Alaska wild salmon and anything else that we can get locally. So, off we went to Nova Scotia in search of scenery and seafood.

And what did we discover on our very first night? The sommelier at our restaurant suggested that we try some of the local wine. Perhaps it was not world-class, but then scallops and mussels pulled from the frigid waters that day were about as good as it gets, and, besides, we have always made it our habit to drink the local wine all over the world so why not here?

When I saw a reference to the article discussing the environemental costs of a bottle of wine in Nova Scotia, I was hooked. I had to read it because I hoped it would talk about Nova Scotia. When was the last time you read any article about wine in Nova Scotia? Well, it turns out that the wine was almost irrelevant to the topic. It was the costs of the creating the trellising system that contributed heavily to the environmental impact and the environmental costs of driving to the store to buy the bottle. Lighter glass made very little difference (as little as 2%). And no one even discussed the fact that drinking Nova Scotia wine meant that wine did not have to be trucked in from the rest of the world.

Chances are that you will never drink a Nova Scotia wine unless you go there, and while this is no travelogue, I am happy to report that I found local varieties like Arcadia to be more interesting than the locally grown Chardonnay and that I found Nova Scotia in general to be well worth the vacation time spent.


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