Kelly Schweitzer toasts a newcomer to Nova Scotia’s wine scene
Thanksgiving weekend saw the grand opening of Avondale Sky Winery, Nova Scotia’s newest winery. Visitors to the Newport Landing facility had the opportunity to feast on a pig roast, tour the winery, and speak with winemaker Ben Swetnam, who had experience in Germany and other Nova Scotian wineries before moving to Avondale. Avondale’s 15 wines were available for guests to taste, including their Tidal Bay, which recently won a gold medal at the 2011 Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards.
“It’s been a long road to get to this day,” says Lorraine Vassalo, co-owner of the winery. “But we’re now thrilled to offer our wines to the public — they are the culmination of much hard work and passion.”
While the winery itself may be new, it’s made up of old parts. Surrounded by rolling hills and the St. Croix and Avon Rivers, Avondale Sky is home to one of the oldest vineyards in the province. The buildings that make up the facility were purchased from offsite locations by owners Stewart Creaser and Lorraine Vassalo and reconstructed for use at the winery. An old barn from 10 kilometres away had been salvaged as the main building, but what was perhaps the most celebrated part of the grand opening was the unveiling of the transplanted former St. Matthews Church. The church was transported 42 kilometres, mostly by ferry, from its original location in Walton, Nova Scotia to Avondale Sky Winery, where it became the estate’s tasting and retail area.
“Beside the wine, the building has definitely become the focal point of the winery,” says Vassalo. “So many people know its history, followed its journey and are excited that it remains an important part of this community. We’re delighted to share it with everyone.”