If you’re on the East Coast, don’t miss tapping into Nova Scotia’s booming beverage scene. With over 50 breweries and nearly 20 wineries across the province, Nova Scotia has gained fame for its crisp Tidal Bay whites, award-winning sparkling wines, and adventurous brews. Keep reading for our list of the best Nova Scotia wineries and Nova Scotia breweries to visit this year.
You probably can’t see them all in one go, but one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia is follow the Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail – Canada’s first and only winery, brewery, cidery, distillery and meadery trail. From Yarmouth to Halifax to Sydney, it’s the best way to discover unique Nova Scotia craft beers, wines, spirits and other drinks. There are over 90 stops along the trail, so we’ve listed some of our favourites.
PS: Even if you can’t travel to Nova Scotia right now, many products are available for home delivery across the province and Canada. That way, you can tour the Good Cheer Trail from the comfort of your couch!
Tatamagouche Brewery (Tatamagouche)
Many of the best beverage makers are located in out-of-the-way rural Nova Scotia. A standout from that crew is Tatamagouche Brewing Company named for its tiny hometown. Their refreshing North Shore Lagered Ale gives away the location and their tasty Hippie Dippie Pale Ale tells you everything you need to know about the vibe. Barrel-aged seasonals are proof of their brewing prowess.
Must-try drink: Solitude Cognac Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.
How to order: Check out their online store.
Experience at home: Take a tour in bottles of the Weird Beer Series, including rye Saison, a sour ale aged on cherries, and a sour porter aged on black currants.
Breton Brewing (Cape Breton Island)
Located on Keltic Drive in Sydney, Breton Brewing is the star of Cape Breton Island. Their Black Angus IPA speaks to the hardy, rustic character of the place, the people and the beer. Lose yourself in the dark flavours of Cocoa Envy Chocolate Porter or find yourself down-home with one sip of Let’s Jam! Strawberry Rhubarb Sour. At the taproom, head inside with bites from the food trucks and tap your toes to “Music on Tap” every Friday night.
Must-try drink: Stirling Hefeweizen.
How to order: Breton ships only within Nova Scotia (Nooooo!). Shop their online store.
Boxing Rock Brewing (Shelburne)
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Founded in 2012, Boxing Rock was launched by two engineers with a thirst for craft beer. Here, you’ll find a mix of old-world ales made with new technology.
In case you’re wondering about the name, it’s based on a Nova Scotian folktale. Yes, there is an actual rock on which folks boxed. According to local legend, when an argument broke out aboard a ship in Shelburne Harbour, combatants were put ashore on a small rock. As the tide rose, the two could either box their way to amity or set aside their differences and enjoy a pint together before the waters overtook them.
Must-try drink: Temptation Red might be the best red ale anywhere.
How to order: Boxing Rock ships across Canada. Nova Scotians in some regions can sign up for a home delivery subscription service that includes a curated collection of beers, merch, pairing ideas and recipes.
Experience at home: Take a class through Boxing Rock’s Beer School in person or virtually. The school includes lessons like Craft Beer 101 and Travel the World Through Beer. Individually curated or for groups up to 30, beers and supplies are home delivered in parts of Nova Scotia or shipped anywhere in the country.
Sober Island Brewing (Sheet Harbour)
Set in the remote village of Sheet Harbour on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, Sober Island Brewery is named for a local island, which in turn was named by a bunch of sailors who’d run out of beer. The handmade wooden furniture welcomes visitors into a sweet, little taproom, a warm space to enjoy a couple cold ones.
Must-try drink: Local Pristine Bay oysters go into every pint of Beth’s Black oyster stout.
How to order: Through their “Beer from Here” program, Sober Island ships across the country, making some of the best beer in Canada available to all.
Garrison Brewery (Halifax)
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In Halifax, two of Nova Scotia’s original craft breweries are musts. Propeller Brewing was the first, but Garrison Brewing soon joined them. This Halifax brewery boasts one of the best locations in the city, down on the waterfront next to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Their flagship taproom and outdoor patio are the place to be, especially in summer.
Must-try drink: “Stay the Blazes Home” ale—an easy-drinking blonde of 4.2%—is inspired by the words of former Nova Scotia premier, Stephen MacNeil, who encouraged everyone to “Stay the blazes home!” early in the COVID-19 pandemic. His famous phrase blew up on social media, finding its way onto coffee mugs, t-shirts and even shower curtains. The Stanfields, a Nova Scotia folk group, immortalized “Stay the Blazes Home” in a song and a whacky music video. And now it’s a beer that you can drink at Garrison! In the spirit of the moment, Garrison Brewing even donates a portion of sales to Feed Nova Scotia.
How to order: Available for curbside pickup, home delivery in Halifax and shipping within Nova Scotia from their online store.
Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards (Wolfville)
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Lightfoot and Wolfville burst onto the Canadian wine scene with some excellent wines made with biodynamic, organic methods and a gorgeous visitor centre, tasting room, restaurant and events venue.
Must-try drink: Made via spontaneous barrel fermentation with indigenous yeasts, L&W’s Ancienne Chardonnay is a soft, lemon meringue mouthful balanced by that bright Nova Scotia acidity.
How to order: The L&W online store. With complimentary local door-to-door delivery and mail order service, it’s possible to try these exceptional wines anywhere in the country. Sign up for the L&W Wine Club to receive a 10% discount on any order.
Luckett Vineyards (Wolfville)
Started by Pete Luckett, the most popular greengrocer in Atlantic Canada, this vineyard shines for its excellent, eclectic dining menu, hospitality, scenic hillside location and easy-drinking wines. Everyone who visits Luckett Vineyards has to grab a selfie and even make a call at the British phone booth in the vineyard.
What to drink: While it’s still available, try Buried Red—a rich blend with black fruit and chocolate notes that’s literally unearthed every two years from its storage place eight feet underground where it matures to a smooth, deep sipping wine.
How to order: In the works is the Luckett Wine Club, but in the meantime, order from their online store starting in spring.
Benjamin Bridge (Wolfville)
Sparkling wines by Benjamin Bridge stand at the pinnacle of Canadian winemaking. Taking full advantage of East Coast growing conditions, soils, proximity to the climate moderating Bay of Fundy and their special location in the Gaspereau Valley, Benjamin Bridge’s classical method sparklings are characteristically bright with a pleasing minerality.
Must-try drink: Nova 7 is the most popular Benjamin Bridge wine and deservedly so. It’s affordable, and its tropical fruit notes are pleasing on the nose and rounded by flavours of melon and lime.
How to order: Order from their online store. Benjamin Bridge offers one of the finest wine delivery collections in the province.
Experience at home: Join a virtual tasting through Zoom! Participants can choose the depth of experience they prefer, request any specific wines they’d like included and await delivery. Benjamin Bridge will even Zoom participants at different locations into the tasting experience! The tasting wines are shipped or delivered to each guest ahead of the tasting appointment, and then a Zoom link is shared with each guest. Then, a BB wine expert will guide you through the story of the wines.
1365 Church Street Vineyards & Winery (Port Williams)
Nova Scotia’s newest winery is a boutique beauty set in a 13-acre vineyard with sweeping views of Cape Blomidon’s red cliffs across the Annapolis Valley. Visitors will enjoy the handsome tasting room with a front-row seat to that view.
Must-try drink: Check out the Oh Sooo Rosé made from four grapes, including Nova Scotia’s signature l’Acadie Blanc.
How to order: It’s TBD—keep an eye on their Facebook group for more info!
Coldstream Clear Distillery (Stewiacke)
When it comes to distilleries, a favourite stop is Coldstream Clear—a Nova Scotia distillery in Stewiacke. You can’t miss it at the side of Highway 102 into Halifax next to the mastodon. Yes, the mastodon… you’ll see.
Must-try drink: Apple Pie—a special liqueur that tastes like a big bite of old-fashioned apple pie. The aromas and flavours of cinnamon and nutmeg are portals to Grandma’s kitchen (especially if Grandma was fond of a tipple now and again).
How to order: Coldstream ships their spirits, liqueurs and sodas everywhere in Canada from the online store.
Experience at home: Coldstream will provide bar service for parties, weddings and other special events right at your home. It could make a great at-home soiree for those with cottage rentals in Nova Scotia!
Ironworks Distillery (Lunenburg)
Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg is another popular craft spirit maker. The name comes from the charming old blacksmith shop converted into this quality boutique distillery right in the heart of Canada’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site town other than the historic district in Quebec City.
Must-try drink: This is the year to try Bluenose Rum. 2021 is the 100th anniversary of Canada’s beloved schooner, the Bluenose. A full year of celebrations is planned to honour the famous ship, including sail-pasts in communities all over the province.
Experience at home: For a truly Nova Scotia pairing to mark the anniversary, order the rum, then order from Lunenburg Rum Cakes made with Ironworks’ rum.
FAQs about Nova Scotia Wineries and Breweries
What makes Nova Scotia breweries so great?
Nova Scotia produces some of the best beer in Canada. The secret to the success of Nova Scotia brewers is in their spirit of cooperation. The proof is in the thriving Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, their eagerness to support and educate each other and in the seasonal beers brewed when two or more breweries come together.
What makes Nova Scotia wineries so special?
Nova Scotia wineries are producing classical method, handcrafted sparkling wines on par with any in the world. It’s their location in the verdant Annapolis Valley next to the climate-moderating Bay of Fundy that makes for perfect growing conditions and superior sparkling wines with that signature Nova Scotia terroir.
What is Tidal Bay wine?
When it comes to wine, the l’Acadie Blanc grape has become synonymous with Nova Scotia wine. It’s the foundation for Tidal Bay, the province’s only appellation wine. Blended and shipped by many Nova Scotia wineries, Tidal Bay wines are fresh, lively whites with a typical acidity and minerality that pair perfectly with Nova Scotia seafood.
Last Call: Know Before You Go
For those who can visit Nova Scotia, check the latest health guidelines on the government website. Then grab a Good Cheer Trail passport or download one online from the Taste of Nova Scotia and collect stamps at some of the 80 member craft beverage producers. Even if travel isn’t yet as easy as it could be, anyone in Canada can download a digital passport and get a taste of the Good Cheer Trail at home. Stay the blazes home if you must, and give a toast to challenges met when everyone does their part.