Learning Through the Grapevine
While wine may grow in vintage the longer it is kept in the bottle, it’s only when the cork is popped and the wine is shared does it fulfill its true purpose and value. The same can be said for research - research is important but its real power lies in sharing information and results. For Acadia University’s Office of Industry and Community Engagement (ICE), the sharing of information and experience is at the heart of their development work with the young wine industry in Nova Scotia.
Over the past two years, ICE has fostered an open dialogue with members of the Grape Growers and Winery Associations of Nova Scotia in an effort to understand their needs for industry growth. One of their most recent initiatives involved facilitating an educational field trip of industry representatives to the Mecca of the Canadian wine industry - the Niagara region.
“Brock University and its Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) are recognized internationally for their expertise and research collaborations within the Canadian grape and wine industries,” says ICE Director Leigh Huestis. “In addition, the wineries and vineyards of the Niagara region are sophisticated in terms of their level of industry development. We were confident that our Nova Scotia industry members could benefit from seeing these type of partnerships in action.”
Funded by Springboard with additional support from Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, the Winery Association of Nova Scotia (WANS) and Brock University, the trip included 17 participants with representation from local wineries, vineyards and WANS as well as Springboard network members from Acadia, Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC), Nova Scotia Community College and Holland College. Led by ICE and NSAC’s Industry Liaison Office with assistance from CCOVI, the two day trip comprised of an overview session at Brock about research collaborations at CCOVI, a visit to Niagara College to discuss their programming and research relationships, a meeting with the Ontario Grape Growers Association as well as tours of various wineries to view the results of specific research projects and partnerships. By all accounts, the group was galvanized by what they learned and inspired by the power of the research collaborations.
“From the perspective of industry development for wineries in Nova Scotia, this trip will have a profound legacy,” says Janice Ruddock, managing Director of WANS. “The opportunity for our members to network with other wineries and learn from their experience with research partnerships was invaluable. The potential for the future is exciting for all of us.”
The trip also spawned discussions among Springboard network members about the possibility of further joint projects with Brock University, two new industry-wide research programs and the potential for an Atlantic Canadian wine/grape centre for excellence.
“There is rich opportunity for the wine industry in Nova Scotia and research can play a key role in its success,” says Huestis. “The Niagara trip helped solidify our ties with industry and together we’re working toward a common vision of sustainable growth and commercial success.”