If you live in the Maritimes, it’s pretty certain you have heard the name Pete Luckett somewhere along the way. It may have been at a dinner party when a friend asked how you found such an exotic fruit for the desert dish. The reply would be at Pete’s Fine Foods. On the East Coast, his name is synonymous with entrepreneurship.
Originally hailing from the U.K., Luckett started Pete’s Fine Foods back in the eighties in New Brunswick, eventually expanding into Halifax. The idea behind it was to create something unique when it came to food shopping. Pick up exotic fruit, stock up on British specialty food, or indulge in imported cheese you; name it. Pete has since sold the brand to Sobey’s, but along the way he took a leap into Nova Scotia’s wine industry by cultivating his own vineyard – Luckett Vineyards. It has resulted in an impressive selection of stellar wine to sip, sample and pair with Nova Scotia’s local produce. Travel Maritimes catches up with Pete to find out what’s new in Nova Scotia’s ever-evolving wine scene.
TM: How have you seen the wine scene change and evolve in Nova Scotia?
Luckett: I was recently in Vancouver at the International Wine Festival and it was proven that Nova Scotia is producing quality! All the wineries are doing a bang-up job. We had six wineries representing Nova Scotia at the big show in Vancouver, and we were the talk of the show. Everyone was raving about Nova Scotia wine. They were really intrigued by what we do out here and the difference in the flavour profile.
We have done a great job especially with the Tidal Bay. Twelve Tidal Bays have been produced in Nova Scotia now. Our Appellation Wine puts a stamp on the region; that is what we are famous for. The Tidal Bays are a crisp, fresh, aromatic, zippy, clean tasting wine. Its like, WOW! People are blown away by it.
TM: What are your plans going forward for Luckett Vineyards in the Annapolis Valley?
Luckett: We are planting more grapes at Luckett Vineyards this year. In three or four years time we will quadruple our production; it’s on the charge. Once you are in this business there is only going forward, there is no getting out. Once you are in you’re in deep and you have to keep going.
We are expanding; we are just firming up plans now for a whole new building. It will be our processing building. I just purchased a new piece of land and we are planting another twenty acres this year. It will take a few years to put together, but it will be fantastic.
TM: What is the perfect wine to accompany our famous Nova Scotia lobster?
Luckett: The Nova Scotia Tidal Bay is a given, but I would narrow it down and say if you’re going to eat lobster, you have got to drink our L’Acadie Blanc. The L’Acadie Blanc that were producing teamed up with lobster is absolutely a match made in heaven.
TM: You certainly love to traverse the globe! Tell us about your latest wine adventure?
Luckett: I am always shaking things up I can’t rest on my laurels; I can never become complacent. I always get inspired no matter where I travel. Whether it be business or just meeting somebody. I always look for new ideas and inspiration.
One of the wineries I went to visit on my latest trip to Uruguay was a winery called Garzon. It was absolutely mind blowing. It was started by a guy back in 2008 who came with a pocketful of money into the wine business. He has planted 2000 acres since 2008, which is totally amazing!
I had a chance to take a helicopter ride with a guest of the vineyard; a high roller from Argentina. We went over the most incredible vineyards. I have never seen vineyards like that in my life. The wine they are producing there is top-notch. Uruguay cultivates a grape called Tannat – it’s a big juicy grape, the Uruguayan equivalent to the Argentinian Malbec. It’s fabulous. Not that I can grow Tannat here, because it requires a hot climate to grow it. Never the less looking around the winery you can’t help but pick up little ideas to incorporate here – everything – including the layout of the restaurant. I am always looking for tidbits that I store in the back of my mind.
TM: What do you love about living in Nova Scotia?
Luckett: People say, “I thought you were retiring”, but I am just getting started. Friendship and camaraderie from everybody; it’s such a lovely friendly place to be in. You get reminded of that every time you land in a big city, whether it be Toronto, Chicago, even Vancouver, and you come back home to the Annapolis Valley and it’s so lovely. You can relax, and it puts you in a relaxed mode – not that I am a relaxed guy!
Everyday I feel so lucky that I managed to find that great side that I was able to put my winery and my home on. I have been here eighteen years now, and every time I look out at the view I am sure I will never ever get tired of it. It’s the most breathtaking, spectacular, fresh green all season view!
Visit Luckett Vinyards online.