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Dominic Rivard, pictured here, at a vineyard he consulted at in China

Nova Challenge

East Coast potential entices winemaker

By Amanda Allison

Dominic Rivard says as a winemaker, he thrives on challenges.

That’s a good thing, because he’ll face a lot of them in his new job at Luckett Vineyards in Nova Scotia.

“The opportunity to make wines in a wine region that is still very much in the development stages does get me excited,” said the eager Rivard.

“Working with innovative grape varieties and interesting hybrids perfectly suited to this less forgiving climate and turning them into world class wines will be a lot of fun.”

Rivard will rely on his 15 years of experience in the winemaking industry to develop Luckett Vineyards into a high-quality winery. The 10-acre vineyard is located in the Gaspereau Valley on the East Coast, where Rivard and owner Pete Luckett have plans to expand with another 25 acres of vines over the next few years.

“We will make the winery a showcase of the best of what Nova Scotia hospitality, culture and cuisine is all about,” said the Quebec-born sommelier.

After studying winemaking and oenology at UC Davis in California and passing the Wine and Spirit Education Trust diploma with distinction, Rivard is now studying towards his Master of Wine accreditation. Specializing in dessert wine and Icewine production, Rivard is also well known as an authority in fruit wine making, which he hopes to continue in this new venture. 

“Truly excellent fruit wines are now being made in BC, Ontario and other provinces and there is no reason why excellent nationally award-winning fruit wines can’t be made in Nova Scotia,” said Rivard about his new home. His focus will be on growing ideal fruit, including grapes, in such an unpredictable climate.

“The vineyard site here is well positioned to take advantage of the warming effect of the Bay of Fundy, however getting the Brix levels (a measurement of sugar ripeness) and acid balance needed in grapes will require more than just our proximity to this body of water,” said Rivard about the special trellising techniques and heavy pruning at the ideal time to ensure optimum ripeness and therefore balance in his wines.

Winemaking in Nova Scotia may not be a task for the faint of heart, but Rivard feels up to the challenge.



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