Only ten years ago, in the shadow of Martock Mountain and surrounded on all sides by an apple orchard, there stood a few empty acres on which Glenn Dodge conceived an empire of grapes.
Today, these ten acres host 7,000 plants, after considerable liming and subsoiling breathed life back into the land. These are marquette grapes, the closest thing to proper Pinot Noir which will grow in Nova Scotia. It’s been a long wait for them to achieve maturity, but the wait is over. Now comes the wine.
Glenn laments that wineries are such an expensive business to realize, requiring potential entrepreneurs either to be independently wealthy, or else seek financial support. In his case, there was the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, empowering him to design and build his winery on the same ten acres as his vineyard of marquettes, alongside a restaurant and brewery.
The Bent Ridge Winery, named for a perceptible bend in the arrangement of nearby mountains, was designed in the Tuscan tradition, a warm, stony, open atmosphere embroidered with authentic Mexican finishings such as toiletries and sinks. There are three wood burning appliances variously for exuding charm, baking pizzas and grilling local meats for a menu both simple and primarily farm-to-table. The wine bottles, sourced with some difficulty from France, are themselves mildly bent, as are some of their beer and wine glasses, sticking to the theme of the winery.
“I’ve heard a lot of people using words like ‘magical’ when they come in here,” said Glenn. “The business is growing quickly, and so is our reputation.”
Thanks to this winery, the Windsor area is now drawing visitors from Halifax in search of local wines, ranging in alcohol content from approximately 13 per cent to 16 per cent, more or less sweet depending on the extent to which their grapes were dried and the length of their stay in barrel storage. There are rosés, contortos, reciotos and more.
“I can’t overstate how important financing is to this vineyard,” said Glenn, crediting the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board not only with the buildings and equipment, but their employment of twelve people through the summer, and the ability to capitalize on the warmest region in Nova Scotia.
“You really have to visit the place to see how special it is.”