Against a backdrop of relatively untouched beauty, Atlantic Canada is a treasure trove for travelers seeking to satiate their appetite for history and great tastes. While Nova Scotia and the Annapolis Valley may be best known for plump Digby scallops, Acadia University, and Peggy’s Cove, the scenic communities tethered to the small town of Wolfville, are a hidden hub for exciting food and drink.
From a small town buzzing with celebrities and North American film debuts to rolling vineyards producing lesser known but highly sought after wines, these must try experiences will have doubting urban explorers asking for seconds. And thirds.
Devour! The Food Film Fest
For the past seven years, Wolfville—a picturesque university town of 6,000 one hour out of Halifax—has played host to Devour! The Food Film Fest, the world’s largest food film festival. The winter event (this year, November 2-6) is jam-packed with workshops and pop-up food events, demos with top chefs, tasting tours, plus more than a dozen food-and-film paired dinners seated next to directors and food glitterati. That’s not mentioning the 75-plus food and wine films that have been curated from far and wide, or the nightly parties with recognized faces from both large and small screens (think everyone from Bill Pullman to celebrity chef Chuck Hughes).
Fresh Farm Produce
Some of Nova Scotia’s best farmland is located five minutes east of Wolfville in Grand-Pré. The UNESCO heritage site pays homage to the Acadians, early French settlers who transformed the Minas Basin marshes into productive dykeland fields (naming the land “Acadie,” meaning “land of plenty”).
Thanks to the pioneers’ early efforts and its location between two parallel mountain ranges, the Annapolis Valley has one of the country’s best fruit-growing regions. Visit a u-pick farm for fresh raspberries, blueberries and hundreds of apple varieties or find them at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, open year-round. Across Cornwallis River, Fox Hill Cheese House makes more than 20 varieties of cheeses, natural yogurt, and creamy gelato using milk produced from their small herd of grass-fed Holstein cows.
Stop by Tangled Garden for travel-ready gifts of intensely flavored small-batch jellies, gourmet vinegars, and liqueurs. Everything is made with fresh fruits and herbs from owner Beverly McClare’s own garden. Allocate extra time to admire the seven-circuit clover and wildflower labyrinth, organic sculptures and pond on the lush grounds.
The Annapolis Valley’s burgeoning wine scene has been called the “new Napa of the North,” boasting of award-winning vineyards and its own signature white wine, Tidal Bay. The crisp and slightly aromatic wine is crafted entirely from slow-ripening Nova Scotia-grown grapes, and has characteristics that reflect the appellation’s cool microclimate and coastal terroir. Production is limited, so your best bet for trying one of these local wines is going straight to the source.
With 10 wineries surrounding Wolfville, a guided tour aboard the Wolfville Magic Winery Bus is your introduction to the province’s best known. You’ll start at Domaine de Grand Pré, an economuseum that’s home to one of the world’s best winery restaurants, Le Caveau, then head to L’Acadie Vineyards, known for their award-winning organic wines, and Luckett Vineyards, identified by the bright red British phone booth peaking above its vines. (Fun fact: Visitors can use the phone to make a free call to anywhere in North America.)
Canada’s most acclaimed sparkling wine house, Benjamin Bridge, requires an appointment for their private tastings and tours. Serious wine connoisseurs have pitted the traditional method cuvée-style bubbly against the best of Champagne. Even their lively, off-dry and fruity moscato d’Asti-style Nova 7 is a perennial sell-out. Attention should also be cast on a new addition, Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards, who has been making deep impressions with the small-lot chardonnays coming out of their certified organic, biodynamic winery.
Nova Scotian Lobsters
Some of the best lobsters are harvested out of the cold, pristine Atlantic waters around Nova Scotia. Travel thirty minutes northwest of Wolfville to the rustic late-18th century fishing village of Centreville, where locals and visitors feast on pick-your-own lobsters, simply boiled in sea water, cracked lobsters. Halls Harbour Lobster Pound has the best lobster and the best view of the dramatic crashing waves at the Bay of Fundy. Time your visit well to watch the world’s highest tides drop 40 feet, leaving formerly bobbing boats stranded on the exposed ocean floor.