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From Vine to Wine – Learning as you tour

Nova Scotia's winery Avondale Sky

Nova Scotia’s newest winery Avondale Sky

There comes a time in your personal growth as a wine tourist, when you want more than tasting, you want the whole winery experience.  Winery owners understand this. They were bitten by the bug long ago. Owners like Doug and Suzanne Corkum   owners of Ste Famille winery and pioneers of the Nova Scotia wine industry  and Stewart Creaser and Loraine Vassalo of the new Avondale Sky winery near Windsor NS have teamed up with Laila North of Go North Tours to organize Along The Avon; the Vine to Wine Experience.

Sainte-Famille Winery a pioneer of the NS wine industry

Sainte-Famille Winery a pioneer of the NS wine industry

The Vine to Wine experience will consist of a series of educational tours for those wine lovers interested in starting their own backyard vineyards. Each tour includes a  90 minute hands-on seminar at each vineyard focusing on the different practices from pruning right through to harvesting. The seminars will be followed by exclusive wine tastings with the winemakers.

Included in the outing is a three-course gourmet lunch paired with wine at Eat Barbecue Diner in Windsor ( formerly known as Coco Pesto and famous for its ribs). Tours depart Sundays from Halifax at 9 a.m, and return at 5 p.m. at a cost of $120 + HST per person which includes the cost of travel, lunch, seminars and wine tastings. The price for customers being picked up in Windsor is $110 + HST.

The first Vine to Wine Experience tour takes place in early spring and subsequent tours follow the growth and care of the grapevines through until harvest.

  • April 7th – Getting Started.  Guests will learn about vine propagation and pruning and receive cuttings with directions on how to start them at home.
  • June 16th – Planting, Trellising and Disease Control. With their vine cuttings ready to plant guests will learn how to trellis their vines and the different trellis training systems. They will be instructed  in the importance of suckering, tucking, and how to recognize diseases.
  • August 11th – First Year Vineyard Practices.  There will be further instruction on vineyard practices as well as learning about leaf, shoot, and cluster thinning.
  • September 22nd – Positioning and Protecting the Grape Clusters. Learn about the importance of cluster positioning as well as pest/bird control and prevention methods. There are other options than bird canons for the backyard viticulturist.
  • October 13th – Grape Harvest and the Crush Pad. A fun day getting down and dirty in the vineyard helping to harvest grapes and learn what happens on the crush pad!
  • October 20th – Grape Harvest & wine making.  More harvesting of grapes and insights into some wine-making techniques.

As it takes three years before grapes can be harvested for wine making, it is not essential to attend every session this year,  but learning from the wineries hands-on from planting to harvest is a terrific opportunity and those wine tastings, discussion sessions with the winemakers and great meals at Eat Barbecue Diner make these tours an enjoyable  learning experience.

For more information or to register for these programs call Laila North at Go North Tours 1- 877 – 365 – 2552 or email  and visit their website for information about their wide selection of upcoming wine tours at

Three years ago, I planted Baco Noir cuttings given out on a winery visit to Sandbanks Vineyard in Prince Edward County Ontario and look forward to my first harvest this summer. It might be enough for a bottle. See my column Planting Baco Noir.


This blog was written in 2013. I have kept it in my collection because these wineries are still in existence and Go North Tours continues to offer excellent tours that make your visits a true learning experience. The list of special learning programs offered by Ste Famille and Avondale Sky Winery give you an idea of many stages of grapevine propagation and wine production.


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