I’ve read studies about the effects of nature’s greenery on the brain. Sure, inhaling a little wacky backy can leave you feeling less stressed but c’mon now, I’m not talking about *that* kind of green. I’m referring to grass and leaves and wooded trails carpeted by lush ferns and moss. It seems that green spaces are calming and can significantly ease brain fatigue. If that’s the case, and I do believe this theory to be true, my brain just took a wonderfully verdant vacation. I spent four days at a Nova Scotia vineyard, surrounded by acres of vines and grapes. While Kermit might have his issues, I have to say, it is easy being in green.
I left St. John’s with a camera crew on a grey, rainy day mid-August. My mind was dampened by thoughts that this year, the old saying had rung true. “Sure, summer’s over after Regatta,” many older folks torment. The annual sporting event runs the first week of August. So you can see why that notion would break the heart of any summer lover in St. John's.
We boarded our plane and after an hour in the air, we touched down in the sun of heat drenched Halifax. We sorted our gear, rented our van, donned our sunglasses and burned out of Haliwood airport to go make our movie. Two Newfoundlanders, Carl and Donna Sparkes, had bought wineries and vineyards in Nova Scotia. Local couple, entrepreneurial types on an adventure in agriculture. A favourite storyline of mine and a perfect fit for CBC’s program, Land & Sea.
Jost Vineyards is in Malagash, on the Northumberland Strait. Mi’kmaq First Nations people gave the area interesting and beautiful sounding names like Tatamagouche, Pugwash and Merigomish. To get to Malagash from Halifax, you drive north toward Truro. (Look for directions at the end of the story.) In a little less than 2 hours, we arrived and gazed out on bucolic backdrops. Farmers on bright tractors baled sun dried hay, green grass poked up through rivers and creeks, sheep and cows grazed on vast farmlands and the edges of shingles on old worn sheds showed hints of their once colourful paint.
We turned onto the Jost property and it felt like we had made a magical detour to France. Terraced vines, in perfectly straight rows, as far as my eyes could see. The grapes weren’t anything like those in the produce section. This fruit was for wine making. Tight bunches of perfectly round green balls, more like the plastic grapes I remember, in the crystal bowl, on my grandmother’s dining room table. I strolled down one row and then up the next, weaving my way through this intoxicating maze of flourishing fruit. Donna, one of the owners, told me that when she’s had enough of the computer screen glare in her office at the winery, she’ll go for a walk in the vineyard and any tension or worries just fade away. Pretty dreamy, huh?
There are tours of the vineyard and winery a couple of times a day and visitors are welcome to roam the property. (www.jostwine.com) There are plans for a walking trail and picnic basket style lunches. And, of course, there’s also the wine! What I sampled was very good but I was on the job and it was safer for me to drink in the view. Besides, after four days in an endless garden of grapes, I was about as relaxed as I could get.
The fellas I was with weren’t big wine drinkers but they do appreciate a cold beer after a long day working in the sun. A couple of times we shot up the highway to neighbouring Tatamagouche. This little town has a lot of charm and it’s very own micro-brewery. (www.tatabrew.com) Look for a bright orange storefront along the main drag. They offer free samples and sell very cool glassware and mugs. The guys recommend the Hippie Dippie pale ale. If you’re in Tatamagouche on Saturday, be sure and drop down to the farmer’s market and creamery. You’ll find local vegetables, baked goods, crafts, jewellery and more. (www.tatamagouchefarmersmarket.ca)
So, if you’re visiting Halifax anytime soon, you might want to consider a day trip to the North Shore. You’ll get great photos, maybe a beer mug and a good bottle of wine. If you take my advice and spend some time soaking up the green scene, you’ll probably leave there like I did: with a new interest in grape growing and as chilled as a bottle of chardonnay.
For an intense dose of green therapy, please check out my photos from the trip in the gallery.
Nova Scotia is full of beautiful vineyards. Check out this website:
There are a few ways to get to Malagash from Halifax. Here’s the route we took:
Take NS-102 North toward Truro
After Truro, take exit 15W o nthe left to merge onto TC-104W toward Amherst, New Brunswick.
Take exit 11 onto NS-4 toward NS-2 Folly Lake
Take a sharp left turn onto Highway 4 toward NS-246, NS-307
Take a slight right turn onto Highway 307
At the end of the road, turn right onto Highway 6