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“A ripe time” for Annapolis Highland Vineyards

Kim Gorman and Chris Williams stand with (in no particular order) Richard McCann, Bob Woods, Danny Brehaut, Alison Knip, Shari-Lynn Williams, Sharon Nishi and Emily Amm. All hands were on deck to help with the bottling process.
Kim Gorman and Chris Williams stand with (in no particular order) Richard McCann, Bob Woods, Danny Brehaut, Alison Knip, Shari-Lynn Williams, Sharon Nishi and Emily Amm. All hands were on deck to help with the bottling process.

BEAR RIVER, NS – This year will be a big one for Annapolis Highland Vineyards, and it all starts with bottling the wine.

Using an automated truck with an assembly line for the first time, the winery is packaging their wine at a rate they’ve never seen before. All hands are on deck, including wine maker Kim Morgan and sales manager Chris Williams, as the wine bottles are brought to the truck and processed.

Williams says the two most important times of year at a vineyard are bottling and harvesting, but that the intricacies of bottling are lesser known.

Wine vats.

Williams says this is the more stressful time.

“The harvest is a fun time, but is generally stress-free. The bottling is considerably more stressful because it’s a more intricate process involving many stages and steps, and needs to go smoothly,” he says.

The process consists of five steps:

1.     The wine is stored and readied in vats within the warehouse

2.     A hose sends the wine to the truck for bottles to be filled

3.     Empty bottles are loaded onto a processing line

4.     The bottles are filled, corked and labels are put on

5.     The bottles are packaged and brought back inside the production centre

The hose pulling the wine into the truck where bottles will be filled.

Bottling began April 25 at 8 a.m. and will likely continue till midnight.

“You have to find the right way to label your wine and present it to the buyer,” says Williams.

“It’s complicated, and you have to get it just right.”

Empty bottles going into the automated truck.

Williams is excited for what’s in store at the vineyard. Its shop has been redesigned and will feature items from local artisans, as well as food products from local farmers.

A summer concert series and other projects are also in the works.

The vineyard’s renaissance is in line with the rejuvenation of the wines themselves. Gorman's first job as head wine maker began when she started working at the vineyards two years ago. She grew up in Niagara-on-the-Lake when the wine industry was first booming, and knows the industry well.

One of her first wines, the 2015 L’Acadie Reserve, won bronze at both the National Wine Awards of Canada and the All-Canadian Wine Championships.

“It was shocking, and it set the bar really high. It was my first time testing out how I make these wines, which makes the awards that much more special,” says Gorman.

“Now it’s time to perfect the recipes.”

Bottles leaving the van fully labelled and packaged.

The winery will also boast a large amount of New York Muskat wine this year, which only produced 200 litres from the vintage in 2015.

“I was able to make 3,400 litres from 2016 vintage, which was a bit of a shock,” says Gorman.

“It was a boom year for sure.”

Williams feels confident with the wines Gorman is creating, and says “the time is ripe for the winery itself.” He says Nova Scotia’s wine industry is also ripe and that industry members work together.

“We all have each other’s backs. There’s no such thing as competition, and we all work together to get our wines to the best they can be,” says Gorman.

The bottles are taken back into the vineyard's warehouse, where they will be stored.

The winery will be holding tastings at the Liquid Assets booth at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, and will also be present at several events over the summer including Scallop Days and the Wharf Rat Rally.

Williams says Nova Scotia wines performed well at the March 2017 ProWein festival in Germany. The event is the largest wine festival in the world and its European attendees loved the Nova Scotia wines.

“I think it was a combination of grapes they weren’t familiar with and a taste they really enjoyed,” says Williams.

“These are exciting times for the industry, and it’s neat to be part of that.”

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