Goose Landing Vineyard welcomed friends, family and wine enthusiasts for their annual grape harvest Saturday.
“We always just try to make the harvest a community event,” said Al Bégin, vineyard manager of Goose Landing vineyard.
“We get volunteers to help us harvest the grapes, and afterwards we celebrate with some bubbly and some charcuterie. This isn’t for a profit what we do; it’s more for community gathering, entertainment and learning for those who want to know about vineyards and the wine world.”
This is the vineyard’s fifth harvest and the grapes will go to the Benjamin Bridge wine house to make a new batch of their Nova 7 wine.
The white wine uses grapes from Goose Landing and seven to eight other vineyards around the province. It’s renowned as the iconic Nova Scotia wine and is one of few Nova Scotian wines available across the country.
The harvest has become a community event each year, bringing people from all over to clip and pluck the newest bundles of grapes.
“It started off just as friends who wanted to get involved,” said Bégin.
“As the volume grew, it became impossible for eight or 10 of us to finish ourselves. So we began reaching out on social media and through Benjamin Bridge, and more people began showing up each year.”
While some have returned each year, new volunteers are always showing up to offer assistance and to learn along the way.
“I just saw a post about the harvest online and was intrigued,” said Wendy McCarther, a new volunteer from Porter’s Lake.
“Nova 7 is my favourite wine, so I thought it would be fun to be a part of the harvest and contribute to the new batch. It is something I’ve always been interested in and just wanted to participate.”
With over 40 people on hand, the harvest took less than three hours, and the group harvested an estimated 5,000 pounds. Once bottled, Goose Landing’s vineyard harvest would contribute to almost 1,700 bottles of wine.
Bégin had been growing grapes in front of his former home for awhile, but after receiving some help and advice from a friend who managed a vineyard, he relocated to the countryside and decided to open his own.
While the work and time needed to run a vineyard during the season can be busy, it varies throughout the year.
“Some weeks you can spend no time at all in the vineyard,” said Bégin.
“Between now and February, I’ll spend almost no time there other than cleaning up the vineyard. The next task is pruning it in February and from there I’ll probably put over 300 hours of my own time into it.”
It is time well spent for him though, as growing grapes and harvesting honey – a new endeavor for the vineyard – is more of a mind-clearing hobby than a business.
“It is a real Zen-like hobby,” he said.
“It is just something fun we are doing on the side. It is just a fun hobby farm thing to do, it keeps me out of the house, keeps me thinking and keeps the head clear.”