Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day Six: Digby, O'NEILS, Petite Riviere, Lunenburg County Winery, Lunenburg Arms Hotel

We bed a sad farewell to beautiful Annapolis Royal and made our way to Digby. There we went to the wharf ending up with another of the many "Taste of Nova Scotia" sites. O'Neil Fisheries also known under the title of Our Royal Fundy brand . O'Neil has a proud reputation in the industry and with clients. One of the reasons why they are so highly thought of is the fact that they own their own fishing fleet, transport their products in their own refrigerated trucks and they maintain their fishing vessels to the best of standards by having their own company to tend to such measures (Tidal Boat Works Ltd.). In addition, their "catch" is always to customer specifications and never altered in any way.
We had the pleasant experience of trying some of these products by visiting the restaurant on the premises. I had a Scallop Burger with Fies, Greg had the Shrimp and Christine the Fish and Chips. That's living. We ate on the wharf amid the fishing boats while watching the men who do the work for a living.
Petite Riviere Winery
Petite Riviere is actually a river located in Lunemberg County across the province from Bear River and Digby. Fed by many lakes , it is the source of the drinking water for the Town of Bridgewater. It is said that Samuel de Champlain ( the guy seems to have been everywhere!) named the river which also gives its name to the little town of Petite Riviere Bridge.
Carol Slack-Wamboldt's winery is in a very picturesque area in Crousetown not too far away. Her late husband, Phillip, spent many years finding just the right place to have a winery----and so he should since he knew he was going to be a winemaker ever since he was 12 years old. He found his "heaven" in the Lahave River Valley.
Carol is the winemaker at the winery now and gave us a tour of her St. Mary's Vineyard located atop of a gravel drumlin. The eight acre site is literally cut out of the forest and is kept in impeccable shape. In many ways the soil reminded me of the Chateauneuf du Pape area in Southern France. Very rocky and "poor" (in this case poor is good since the harder the vines work to produce fruit, the better the fruit will be!). The rocky soil and rocks serves a dual purpose! First is the obvious, the land has excellent drainage. The second is that the rocks retain the heat thus in cool evenings they continue to warm the vines----which can be important on frosty nights.
Carol's wines were all exceptional especially the Terres Rocheux, an unfiltered red that was superb by any standards. All Petite Riviere wines are made from grapes grown in area and this South Shore winery is indeed a site to behold!
The group of us then travelled to Lunenburg and registered at the Lunenburg Arms Hotel after which we had a bite to eat and off we went to visit the last winery of our tour.
Lunenburg County Winery
Three generations of family history going back to William the Conqueror, combine to make this winery located in Newburne (approx. 24 kilometres from Lunenburg) on a property known as Hackmatack Farm, which is a 100 acre commercial "Highbush" blueberry grower. The adjoining makes superb Blueberry Wine (from low growing blueberry bushes) as well as Pear, Cherry, Rhubarb, Kiwi, Peach, Strawberry, Cranberry, Raspberry, Gooseberry, Apricot, Elderberry, Apple and much more.
Their dessert wines are sumptuous and their fruit and grape wines have won medals at pretigous wine competitions such as Intervin, Fruit Wines Of Canada, The All Canadian Wine Competitions and Port of Wines!
It was a pleasure meeting the family. One member, Les Southwell proved to be the highlight of the day with his humour. While we were filming "on air" he remarked, "My Blueberry Wine is not only good but it is as good for one as that blue pill called "Viagra". The man in his eighties was as refreshing as any of his phenomenal wines. I hope that I'm is as good a humour when I reach eighty (if I reach eighty!). Actually, the whole family was welcoming and a pleasure to see and visit with. Greg, Christine and I enjoyed our visit and look forward to another one soon!
Lunenburg and The Lunenburg Arms Hotel
Lunenburg was founded in 1753. It is the home of the famous Bluenose and was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1955. As historical as it is beautiful, this this town is one of the best examples of a planned Brtish colonial settlement in North America.
We arrived at the Lunenburg Arms Hotel where we all went to our rooms to "freshen up". Outside my room was a site to behold as the view was breathtaking. It overlooked Lunenburg Harbour and its wharf where various vessels (the Bluenose 2 docks there) were docked.
Christine made arrangements for us to have dinner at the well known and respected "Tin Fish Restaurant".
That evening the Chef , a lovely young lady called Misty, prepared a fine meal for us. We had the pleasure of also having Christine's parents (Mr. and Mrs. Dave White) join us from Bridgewater. Mr. White was a delight to have with us since his humour and knowledge of history certainly made my evening. Mrs White was equally wonderful. Her and Christine were double "picture postcard" replicas of each other---which is very good!
The Chef went all out to prepare a fine meal for all of us including one of the largest bowls of soup I've ever had. Not that I'm complaining since I ate every bit of the seafood chowder but what I thought was the bowl of soup was actually the cup. If you can imagine what the bowl was like! The Atlantic Salmon that I had was equally delicious. A fine meal was had by all. It's always nice to eat with friends and even nicer to make new friends while eating.
Next! A Lunenburg Arms Filming, Peggy's Cove and Good-Bye to Nova Scotia!