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NSCC Kingstec Positioned To Grow With Wine Industry

“My father appreciated artisanal food products,” she says. “My grandfather had a small vineyard (in Portugal). I remember the oval barrels and all the wine being sold locally.”

The NSCC principal doesn’t drink wine, but she was raised to appreciate a pure product made without additives.

Later in her youth, she recalls her father seeking the freshest grapes for his winemaking in the rail yard when the family was living in Toronto.

The first thing Italian and Portugese families do to prepare for Sunday dinner, Madeira-Voss says, is go down to the wine cellar and fill a jug.

“Wine is an integral part of the culture. It has been for centuries,” she says. “So that was normal, even though my mother didn’t drink.”

Her memory takes her back to family shopping at the Kensington Market where fresh ricotta cakes of cheese were sold in bins.

“All of that was very influential. In my mind the wine, the cheese and the meat are a package.”

That is why Madeira-Voss values the potential of “our amazing agricultural resources.” That is why she likes moving NSCC programming into the community, especially when it relates to cuisine and tourism.

“It only makes sense,” says Madeira-Voss, referring to the trends that are developing in the Valley region. As a one-time board member of the Kings Community Economic Development Agency, Madeira-Voss notes that agriculture and tourism are the pillars of the local economy.

“It’s a logical thing to take what we’re good at in the agricultural belt of the province and make it stronger.”

She has travelled during her seven-year tenure to look at strong models for this region like Vermont, Niagara and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

In fact, Madeira-Voss and her husband used vacation time to take an introduction to cheese making course at the University of Vermont. She observed that between 50 and 60 artisan cheese producers began to flourish in the Eastern Townships region.

They didn’t compete with each other, Madeira-Voss noted. Bicycle tour and bed and breakfast operators mapped the creameries for visitors instead.

Those trips allowed her to envision what she calls multiple drawings cards: interesting breads, charcuteries and smoked meats to augment the existing culinary businesses locally and add to the region as a wine-producing destination. So two years ago Kingstec added a baking and pastry arts program.

New programming in winemaking came about in co-operation with Ontario’s Niagara College. Last summer, a learning vineyard was planted right across the street from the Kingstec campus. It currently contains five varieties of grapes, “with space and room for more. Working with the industry in this way is very exciting,” says Madeira-Voss.

Recently announced federal funding is allowing the Kingstec campus to partner with the Perennia Innovation Centre and the grape growers association to establish a winery applied-research facility that will enable students to acquire specialized knowledge that will contribute to the development of the sector.

The Nova Scotia wine industry, after all, contributes nearly $200 million annually to the provincial economy. Local partners, like Bruce Ewart of L’Acadie Winery and Patrick Cantieni and Hans Peter Stutz of Domain de Grand Pré, all foster a generous spirit around winemaking.

Madeira-Voss is proud, too, of the Applied Geometrics Research Group (AGRG) in the Valley. The AGRG is currently testing the potential of new topo-bathymetric LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping technology for application in Nova Scotia’s aquaculture, forestry and agriculture sectors.

She believes better mapping of the sea floor and coastal shoreline has the potential to further expand culinary options.

Madeira-Voss hopes the community college system can help train all those involved in tourism to benefit the industry.

Although she is retiring before Christmas, Madeira-Voss intends spending her last months focused on this area.

“It’s a privilege to be involved in this kind of development work, helping the industry grow, thinking about what’s there and could be.”