Wineries Inspire Tourism Business

first_imgThe sunny Annapolis Valley is fertile ground not only for grapes and wineries, but also for a budding tourism business that promotes Nova Scotia’s wines and cuisine. Valley Wine Tours is operated by two young Nova Scotia sommeliers, Sean Buckland and Mark DeWolf. They operate tours of Sainte-Famille’s vineyard in Falmouth, and Domaine de Grand Pré and Gaspereau vineyards, both near Wolfville. As a sommelier, Sean helps diners select wines to accompany their meals at the Five Fisherman in Halifax. The restaurant has an extensive offering of Nova Scotia wines. “The idea of a wine tour business came to me when I took staff from our restaurant on a tour,” says Sean. “They learned more about the wines we serve and enjoyed a great meal at Le Caveau restaurant at Grand Pré. I realized the tour could easily be adapted for tourists.” Sean discussed the idea with his friend Mark, who is the food and wine editor of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation’s magazine, Occasions. A few months later, they had their tour license and a 14-passenger van ready to bring tourists to the Valley wineries. The pair know their wines. Sean is a graduate of the Association of Sommeliers in the Atlantic provinces. Mark is a graduate of the International Sommelier Guild and an instructor with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. “We’ve got a unique quality product, being the first to offer wine tours conducted by sommeliers in Nova Scotia,” says Sean. “We’re developing strong alliances with other businesses to sell not only our tours, but also to promote Nova Scotia as a wine and culinary destination.” Valley Wine Tours has created a tour package with Via Rail and Delta Hotels. Passengers riding in Easterly Class enjoy Nova Scotia food and wine on the train, the seafood festival menu at Delta Hotels in Halifax, and a wine tour the next day. The company also worked with Via Rail and wine industry colleagues to host a Nova Scotia food and wine dinner in Ottawa. The Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage also promoted the event at the Ottawa Travel and Vacation Show. “We want Nova Scotia to be recognized as a wine region,” Sean says. “We can achieve that goal more rapidly and effectively by working with partners who already have infrastructure such as distribution lists and marketing efforts that we can tap into.” Sean and Mark also team up with other businesses to take advantage of the new opportunity to advertise on Nova Scotia’s official tourism website, novascotia.com . Besides helping put Nova Scotia on the map in the world of wine, the duo is also spreading tourism dollars to more businesses. Their tours attract both Halifax area tourists and residents who might not otherwise take a day trip to the Annapolis Valley. The new company is getting more than the attention of wine lovers, too. Valley Wine Tours won the 2005 Tourism Innovator Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. Creating new tourism experiences like those offered by Valley Wine Tours is a key element of Nova Scotia’s tourism plan for 2006. The plan is developed by the joint industry-government Tourism Partnership Council. It is based on extensive research and designed to expand the tourism industry in Nova Scotia. It is available on the website at www.gov.ns.ca/dtc . Tourism is a $1.29 billion industry in Nova Scotia employing 33,000 people. -30-last_img