Last updated on February 3, 2024
This article is an excerpt from an article on New Brunswick wine I wrote for Wander with Wander in November. The article delves into the unique take and vibrant approach to producing hybrids and fruit wines, giving New Brunswick wine the potential to prove itself another viable wine region for Canada.
Most people do not consider New Brunswick a place to discover wine, but the destination is an emerging wine region with ten wineries. I visited seven of those ten. From the biggest producer, Magnetic Hill Winery, the ambassador of the area, to the small boutique grower, there is an eclectic mix of wines from Marquette and Osceola to fruit and maple wines. New Brunswick wine is a budding industry. The common thread is vineyards and grapes growing by the sea. The salt air and ocean breezes play an important role in the viability of this region.
The soils tend to be sandy and clay loam. Near the Northumberland Strait, one finds red soil.
Two events opened the door to winery development. In the late 90s, the government opened the doors to farm-based/cottage wineries. In 2015, the New Brunswick Government started a program allowing wineries to sell wine in select grocery stores. This action helped to expand New Brunswick’s wine industry.
The best way to describe the wine industry in New Brunswick is they produce cool climate wine created by warm, friendly people. Warm and friendly describes the people, but I went in with a Californian’s concept of fruit wines and became pleasantly surprised by the quality, thus changing my attitude about the wine.
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Magnetic Hill Winery
Considered the largest winery in New Brunswick, owners Jeff and Janet Everett were looking to move from a strawberry and raspberry U-Pick farm with a very short season. Since the government opened the door for farmers and wineries, it created an opportune time to convert the business. The idea of using the produce they already grew for wine enticed them.
While planning to use their existing farm for a winery, an 1867 estate in Magnetic Hill became available. Knowing the property’s history, magnificent views, and location near a popular tourist attraction intrigued them. It took a lot of work to restore the estate. The winery opened in 2005 with three fruit wines: strawberry, raspberry, and rhubarb. Since 2008, the Everetts have been adding to their portfolio.
They planted grapevines and Rhubarb on the property. Those first vines did not necessarily take due to the area’s winter weather. After exploring the grapes grown in Niagra and Minnesota, they planted Marquette and Osceola. The first substantial vintage was in 2017.
Today, Everett’s son Zach is the winemaker after deciding not to continue schooling as an engineer and architect. Zach loves combining agriculture, art, science, travel, language, food, business, marketing, and branding into his job as winemaker.
Today, Magnetic Hill Winery makes 40 wines and grows 30 varieties; nonetheless, Zach feels he needs to experiment to discover what grape represents New Brunswick wine. Area wineries are still finding their place in the wine industry. It is apparent with the whites that beaches and seafood go with the wine.
Magnetic Hill Favorite New Brunswick Wine
Lodestone White: Blending Osceola with ES 2317 and Adaalmina, one gets fresh wine with lemony flavors. Think Pinot Grigio meets Sauvignon Blanc.
Marquette 2021: This wine displays sweet and savory flavors because the wine is created in an apasimento style of drying the grapes.
Mystique: A non-vintage cranberry wine, I found a refreshingly light and dry wine, perfect for Thanksgiving.
Winegarden Estate Winery
Probably one of the oldest family-owned wineries in New Brunswick, Werner Rosswog immigrated from Baden Baden, Germany, in 1983. A banker by trade, his family had a winery in Germany. Originally a hobby, Werner’s vision opened the door to the wine-growing industry, making Winegarden Estate the first private winery and distillery. They obtained their license in 1991. It started with a distillery using local apples.
The 300-acre property has 7 acres planted with vines.
Their niche product was blueberry and apple wine, but they moved into growing other varieties.
Winegarden Favorite New Brunswick Wine
L’ Acadie Blanc: This Ontario hybrid is the chardonnay of the Maritimes. The wine displays fresh, light flavors of pear and pineapple.
Richibucto River Winery
Family-owned Richibucto River Winery represents a winery with the largest vineyard making wine in New Brunswick. Established in 2005 by Alan Hudson, who resided on the property for 20 years before planting 22 of the 75 acres with grapes.
Prior to growing grapes, Alan worked as a forestry contractor. The property started as a Christmas Tree Farm and moved to growing Buckwheat to cultivate the soil by reducing acids before planting grapes. Richebucto’s first vintage came out in 2008. In 2010, they opened the winery and tasting room.
Alan is self-taught but worked with several wineries in Nova Scotia to perfect his craft. Today, Alan’s son Derek works with his father as winemaker.
The vineyards overlook the Richibucto River, which empties into the Northumberland Strait. The Hudson’s grow 20-plus varieties of cool climate hybrid grapes, both French and Minnesota, including Marechal Foch, L’Acadie Blanc, Marquette, Osceola Muscat, and Frontenac. The goal is to produce clean, crisp whites and balanced reds.
In addition, Richibucto has partnered with Country Liberty, a clothing line, to make a white and a red wine.
Richibucto River Winery Favorite New Brunswick Wine
Mystique 2019 with its lemon, lime, and green apple flavors.
Acadian Red 2020: This wine celebrates the Acadian culture, displays aromas of florals, particularly Jasmine, and exhibits flavors of plum and pomegranate.
My favorite is the 2021 Frontenac Reserve, which comes across as an almost port-like wine but not too sweet yet makes a lovely dessert wine.
Vinerie Des Fruits
There is something very European about this winery. It might be the pastoral landscape, which is very serene and inviting. Owned by Jeff Richard and Annie Vadnais, most fruits grow on their property. They purchased the 128-acre property in 2010 and, in 2013, started working on the land. They planted various fruits over the next four years, including honeyberry, pink, white, and red current. Today, 7.5 acres are planted.
Walking the property is a treat as bursts of yellow, purple, and green catch your eye, followed by bushes filled with berries. Testing the fresh fruit, especially the honeyberry, adds to the experience.
Honeyberry, also known as Haskap, is a new super fruit that reminds of a blend of wild blackberry and blueberry. Its color is similar to blueberry. The difference is that the blueberry is round, and the honeyberry looks like a teardrop.
Vinnie Des Fruits Favorite New Brunswick Wine
Tasting each wine both with and without ice, I preferred without ice. Although all wines were excellent, my favorite was the Mistelle Honeyberry.