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Acadia Wine Research And Testing Facility Gets Almost $500,000 In Funding

Nova Scotia’s wine producers are raising their glasses to toast an investment of almost a half million dollars that aims to speed up wine production and improve the quality of wine produced.

President of the Treasury Board of Canada Scott Brison was joined at Acadia University with its president, Ray Ivany, Premier Stephen McNeil and members of his cabinet and caucus, including Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell, and Kings MLAs Keith Irving and John Lohr.

Several members of the wine industry were also present.

The Growing Forward 2 program will be supported by $487,960 in cost-share funding to build a research and testing facility in the heart of wine country at Acadia.

“The wine industry is the largest growing industry in rural Nova Scotia,” said Premier McNeil. “It’s important to have quality lab services, especially as we look to the future of export.”

McNeil said in the past the province typically made investments in industries that needed a measure of help to survive, but helping to build this facility is key to help the growing wine industry thrive.

Colwell says it’s probably one of the best investments the province has ever made. “We’ve been talking about this on the wine board for about two years now. It’s a small investment but it’s going to have a huge, long-term economic impact on the province.”

“We already have a world-class product,” said Brison. “Now we have the potential to take it to a new level,” adding he thinks the industry will be a major catalyst for both tourism and immigration in Nova Scotia.

Brison said when he was first elected as the MP for Kings-Hants, there were two wineries in the province. Today there are 23 wineries and 94 grape growers producing about one million litres of wine a year. In 2015, the industry had sales exceeding $15 million.

When the wine lab is finished, wine producers will no longer have to send samples to other provinces, like Quebec and Ontario, for analysis.

The testing helps them to verify the wine’s quality and finishing process, and producers say it’s been a huge inconvenience causing delays getting local wine on store shelves.

It also costs them several hundred dollars each time.

“Having a local lab makes a huge difference in our ability to react when we’re making wine and making quick corrections by making a quick analysis,” said Winery Association of Nova Scotia spokesman Stewart Creaser, who also owns Avondale Sky Winery.

Creaser said it’s cumulative because that’s for one wine. “And then I have to do the next one and the next one. At small wineries, everything is not ready to bottle at the same time.”

So local lab analysis is a critical piece, he said.

“One of the main things when you finish is a process called stabilizing the wine. You have to verify that worked before it goes in the bottle, otherwise it can result in wine crystals if you don’t,” Creaser said.

It doesn’t really affect the quality of the wine, “but from a sell-ability perspective, the consumer picks up a bottle and sees stuff in the bottom of it, they’re not going to buy it.”

He said Avondale Sky had to recall one of its Tidal Bay releases off NSLC shelves some years ago because of it.

“We had to take it back, fix it, rebottle it and put it back out again. So think about what that cost.”

“If we’re going to be a high quality industry, the wine has to be high-quality.”

Dr. Anthony Tong, an associate professor with the university’s chemistry department, will be operating the lab when it opens this summer.