An enlightened approach to viticulture

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Crested on a hilltop with a spectacular view of Cape Blomidon and the Bay of Fundy and family-owned by eighth generation farmers, Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards is looking to become Nova Scotia’s first certified biodynamic winery

In the heart of the Annapolis Valley, nestled between the town of Wolfville and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, lies a winery that is set to change the dynamics of viticulture in the Canadian province. Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards is spread over 35 acres of vines on two sites, one on the edge of Wolfville and the other in nearby Avonport. The name Lightfoot & Wolfville comes from the family surname ‘Lightfoot’ and ‘Wolfville’ is the name of the town where the winery is located. The ‘&” ampersand represents the family’s belief in the pairing of people and place.

Jocelyn Lightfoot

Jocelyn Lightfoot

“The Lightfoot family has been farming in Nova Scotia for eight generations, making it natural for us to identify as farmers first and foremost. The current piece of land we are farming has been in the family for four generations. There is a deep family connection to this land and the generations before us, the winery is a family legacy project for our children and future generations to come,” says Jocelyn Lightfoot, a trained sommelier and co-owner of the winery.

Both vineyards have breathtaking views of Cape Blomidon, and benefit from the Minas Basin’s moderating impact on climate. Another shared aspect of the terroir at both sites is the rare Wolfville Formation Soil that makes up a mere three per cent of the winery province’s soil spectrum. The upper root horizon consists of glacial till with coarse sandy loam, while the deep root horizon’s clay content provides ideal moisture retention. Evidence of earlier history has been found on both the sites, including Acadian and Planter artifacts and even an Acadian-era house foundation where the current winemaking facility stands.

highspirits-2World renowned Ontario wine consultant Peter Gamble was roped in to assess the winemaking potential of their winery. He says, “One indisputable truth that every generation of winemakers learns and relearns, is that the finest wines come from the finest vineyards, grown and nurtured by farmers and viticulturists respectful of the land’s particular gifts and energies. So for the best stewards of those sites, we use the term ‘winegrowers’ – just as we do for great artisan winemakers with deeply intuitive ties to their vines and their best soils. For over five years now, I have worked with the Lightfoot team – first as new viticulturists, and then as an emergent winery – and I can confidently say that they are winegrowers. And, moreover, they are advancing viticulture in the province: not only are they growing the classic champagne varieties to produce top-flight traditional sparklings, they are poised to forever change the face of classic Burgundian – and Germanic-influenced wines, as well.”

Based on the ideas of Austrian philosopher, Rudolph Steiner, biodynamic viticulture is the practice of balancing the resonance between vine, man, earth and the stars. The concept of biodynamics started in the 1920s is the oldest, anti-chemical agricultural movement that predates the creation of organic farming by about 20 years.

Michael Lightfoot

Michael Lightfoot

Her husband and partner, Michael Lightfoot explains, “As farmers, it is important to us to leave our land to future generations in a healthier state, our soils enriched and free from chemicals. And as winegrowers, we strongly agree that great wines are grown in the vineyard. Living soils grow healthy vines which bear balanced fruit and make quality wine. This is why we practice biodynamics at Lightfoot & Wolfville. We look at biodynamics as a holistic vision of the farm as a self sustaining, living ecosystem. Which allows us to consider all of the elements surrounding the vines, the soil, the plants, the animals and environment. We use a series of special preparations made from natural ingredients sourced directly from our farm such as animal manure, herbs and minerals to enhance the vitality of the soil, which we apply at appropriate times in keeping with the rhythm of nature.”

Certified organic and grown according to the principles of biodynamic agriculture, the winery’s repertoire of wines include classic Burgundian-inspired Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Rieslings and other German-styled white wines, as well as traditional method prestige cuvée sparkling wines.

“We believe certified organic wines will continue to grow as a category hopefully around the world. The wine industry will be keeping up with the rest of the world’s quest,” says Jocelyn.

highspirits-3The winery is also an events space. The facilities are versatile and accommodating with indoor and outdoor venues for weddings and events for small or large groups. The property offers a ceremony terrace, with breathtaking views of Cape Blomidon and the Minas Basin. The marquee tent sits amongst the vines overlooking the water. As well as the opulent underground Barrel Cellar to name a few features. “We opened the doors to our brand new facility in August 2017 and have been welcoming weddings and events ever since. We are keeping up with demand for the property and feel our facility has the flexibility and capability of being a venue that is timeless and memorable for everyone,” informs Jocelyn.

highspirits-4The winery’s annual case production this year is 8,500 cases. Michael sums up,“We are a small family run winery focused on quality small lot wines. It makes it hard to export to outside countries before fulfilling the needs of our local market first.

Exporting is absolutely a focus of ours, and we are starting to form these relationships now with a few countries abroad. Maybe one day India will be on our list.”