KENTVILLE, NS - Students in a new wine program at the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus already have their first batch of icewine in the works.
Cool Climate Wine and Viticulture program faculty instructor Bruce Ewert said the Vidal grapes were harvested from the educational vineyard, which is just under an acre in size and located directly across from Kingstec on Belcher Street in Kentville.
In order to produce icewine, the grapes must be frozen on the vine and harvested at a temperature of -8C or lower. Although the harvest took place in mid-January, the weather was cold enough in November, which is very early. However, the program hadn’t started yet.
“It went through a couple of freeze-thaws, which is fine for icewine, it actually develops some neat flavours,” Ewert said.
After harvesting the grapes at daybreak, the students pressed the grapes outside using a wine press. Kingstec’s first icewine is now fermenting. There were enough grapes to produce approximately 40 bottles of 2018 Vidal icewine.
“This is a small production but like I said, it’s all about the experience the students get, learning the theory behind it and then actually doing it,” Ewert said.
Program graduates would be highly employable in this burgeoning wine region as vineyard managers, assistant wine makers, in retail wine shops or in other capacities.
The one-year program is brand new, having started in January. Considering the fast pace of growth in the wine industry, Ewert said the program would greatly augment the province’s infrastructure.
The faculty is made up of individuals with extensive industry experience. A teaching winery has been established at Kingstec and the 14 students currently enrolled get hands-on experience with the entire grape growing and wine making cycle.
The course includes four to six-week industry work placements during key times and students occasionally take educational field trips to Acadia University’s ALAB, the Acadia Laboratory for Agri-Food and Beverage in Wolfville. Ewert said the new facility at Acadia is high-tech and includes state-of-the-art commercial analytical equipment.
Wines produced at the Kingstec educational winery will be served at NOSH: Sweet, Savory, Service. This is the campus restaurant operated by the Culinary and Tourism students.
“We’ve got a cool label on the bottles, it looks more like a report card,” Ewert said.