(POSTED: June 30, 2010)
Planet of the Grapes
With a blend of poignancy and astute accuracy, Robert Louis Stevenson
said, “Wine is bottled poetry.” Perched on a hilltop—so the vines can soak up
those essential rays—Domaine de Grand Pré and its products certainly speak some
beautiful verse. The property is a remarkable space where its success, like a
poem, relies on authenticity, sustainability and execution. Ambling among the
flora, you certainly feel transported to another world.
“It's that European style of showcasing the terroir, the grape, without
too much winemaker effect,” says Craig Pinhey, an established Maritime wine
consultant, writer and sommelier.
Owner, entrepreneur and serious vino aficionado, Hanspeter Stutz,
presents a flawless product, while his son, Jürg Stutz, has created wines using
distinct styles and practices. Since every patch of earth is an environmental
fingerprint—with no plot or pasture identical to another—the property treats
each variety uniquely. Variables such as the area's climate requirements play a
significant part in grape growth. The family's commitment to excellence has
inspired others in the industry, including Pete Luckett, the owner of Pete's
Frootique markets. He met Hanspeter in 1989 but reestablished their bond two
decades later. His relationship with the Stutzes continues to blossom after
recently creating a special red wine, ‘Pete Luckett Vineyard Millot.' With
their combined love for food and wine, Pete and Hanspeter knew the
collaboration would be something special.
“Our relationship really developed in 2000, when I bought 100 acres of
farm across from the winery. In 2002, I became part of the ‘round table cooking
club' of bonded brothers,” says Luckett.
“I noticed how well our two brands suited each other; it is a win-win
situation in the eyes of the public [and] not only for us.”
What was once a dilapidating farmhouse—first constructed nearly 200
years ago—has been restored and reborn into stunning buildings that parallel
the magnificent landscape. In the late 1990s, Stutz left Switzerland to set up
shop in Grand Pré, taking the ramshackle villa under his wing with the hope of
a bright business and future. His children, Jürg and Beatrice, also moved to
Nova Scotia with the same intent of making Domaine de Grand Pré a success. The
estate is certainly a family business, as Jürg is the winemaker; his wife,
Cäcilia runs the wine shop; Beatrice Jurt-Stutz manages the restaurant, Le
Caveau; and her partner, Jason Lynch, is the executive chef. From the
restaurant's wooden walls the colour of pale golden wheat, and the wine shop's
marble countertops, the Stutz family has never sacrificed quality for
expediency. They wanted to create a beautiful environment bursting of quality
and the attention to detail is obvious.
“Retail is detail and they get the details,” says Luckett. “The fit and
finish is nothing short of world class and top class. You don't see it often
enough, this caliber for the brand and everything—for the logo, the packaging,
the image. They stand out in the crowd.”
is an international charmer. Since the first recorded planting in 1633, Canada
has embraced its grape-growing roots as the country's oldest industry. Wine
growing in Nova Scotia initially began in the Annapolis Valley in the 1960s,
when planters experimented with Russian varieties and French blends. A few
decades later, vintners explored the best grapes from Sauvignon Blanc to
Cabernet Franc and The Grape Growers Association of Nova Scotia eventually
formed in 1982, giving the province its necessary support for success. The Nova
Scotia Wine Standards also requires that wine produced in Nova Scotia use no
less than 85% of the province's own grapes, and the remaining 15% must be
Canadian-grown. In 1999, Domaine de Grand Pré truly made its mark and jumpstarted
the province's now-thriving industry. Between 1990 and the dawn of the new
millennium, Canada has established hundreds of wineries, with Nova Scotia
housing more than a dozen.
Pré, alongside Jost, has been a leader in propelling the Nova Scotia industry
forward, especially in the cause of agritourism,” says Tony Aspler, a Canadian
writer, lecturer and educator on wine.
What essentially distinguishes one chateau from another comes down to
quality and care from a strong team. Domaine de Grand Pré's philosophy is
“please don't hurry.” In our modern-day world of texting, fast food and Wi-Fi,
this focus is on speed and convenience, not leisure and connection. The Domaine
is a real and romantic remedy to that rapid-paced feel; the Stutzes know that
the “time has been taken to do it right—to ultimately create an atmosphere
where you can escape the usual, everyday pressure to hurry.”
Located along Nova Scotia's historic Evangeline Trail near the Bay of
Fundy, the Domaine has itself become a notable landmark. With the quaint town
of Wolfville a mere five minutes away, and city life just an hour east, Grand
Pré has the perfect location.
created a really unique atmosphere with our winery and restaurant—the
courtyard, the heritage house, the landscaping and the attention to details,”
says Jürg. “My dad always wanted to create a destination where people can spend
a whole afternoon. Between the tours and tastings, lunches and dinners, martini
nights and all the other activities that are happening we certainly achieved
Le Caveau has certainly
prided itself on using many local products to create exquisite seasonal fare.
With an 80-seat pergola and a 50-person dining room, they host themed events
including martini nights and specialty dinners. Each summer, the Domaine
organizes at least three walking dinners with six stops around the property,
and the kitchen's expert culinary team pair local food to the property's wines.
Le Caveau has been awarded the Taste of Nova Scotia Prestige Award for “2009
Best Restaurant in Nova Scotia”.
Another of the estate's inarguable fortes is weddings. The clacking of a
bride's freshly purchased heels on the cobblestone walkway, and the uncorking
of Muscat wine become the soundtrack to an ideal celebration. Beatrice channels
her inner planner by recommending local bands, photographers and florists,
while Jason conquers the menu and cake. The wine shop is also a vital part of
the property, offering daily tours and samplings, and selling everything from
wine jellies and imported chocolates to recipe books and glassware.
de Grand Pré is like a good wine: it only gets better with age. For the
vineyard's 10th birthday, wine lovers can bask in three extraordinary events.
The official anniversary weekend kicks off the weekend of June 12-13, when Fid
Restaurant's noted chef, Dennis Johnston, produces a “Chef Series” dinner. On
Sunday, Swingology will play an afternoon set of live music, and the Domaine
will unveil their newest traditional method sparkling wines, “Champlain” and
“Ice Cuvée” during a
reception for our invited guests. During the September 10-11 weekend,
there will be the annual “Wines of Nova Scotia” dinner at Le Caveau as well as
a concert in the vineyard. The third set of festivities is during Wine Fest
weekend from October 9-10. Our Chef Jason Lynch and guest chef Craig Flinn will
prepare a multi-course dinner on Saturday and the property hosts a charity art
auction with Feed Nova Scotia on Sunday.
The Stutzes strongly believe that “tasting is believing.” With six
whites, seven reds, one rose, and several ice and dessert wines, they take
pride in these products by showcasing true and careful craftsmanship. The
advantage of vintage wine is the flavour of history, the taste of hard work.
Craig Pinhey also believes that the property produces “clean, fresh, precise,
variedly correct wines,” and critics agree, presenting Domaine de Grand Pré
several awards, including “Best Winery” and Taste of Nova Scotia's “Best
Restaurant,” both in 2009. With over 30,000 visitors last year alone, everyone
from critics to connoisseurs agree that things can only get better.
“It's a class act… local everything is on fire and the wine industry
has kicked itself up [a notch] in the last few years,” says Luckett. “There is
no stopping Hanspeter—he's like a freight train [and] this thing is moving and
shaking like a tornado.”
lovers everywhere should raise a glass to the family that believed there's no
business like wine business, and a property as cozy and charming as your own
living room. Robert Louis Stevenson also said, “Judge each day not by the
harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”
Domaine de Grand Pre is
certainly sowing a bright and beautiful future.