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Fox Harb'r Resort meetings events site selection

6 Smart Site Selection Tips

Space, dates, rates — that used to be the venue site selection trifecta. Today, thanks to ever savvier travellers, changing attendee demographics and constantly shifting business priorities, picking the best event location can get complicated, especially for smaller groups, specialty programs and incentives.

Yes, where you meet matters. But there’s no need to sweat over the perfect destination. Streamline your site selection process with these six helpful hacks from Nova Scotia’s Fox Harb’r Resort, where experts eat, sleep and breathe bespoke group travel.

  1. Dollars and Senses – To create an event that makes an impact, remember that while we only register 15% of what we hear, our other senses have over 85% recall. Boost contextual learning by selecting a location that is well-equipped to help you incorporate all five senses – sight, smell, taste, and touch – as well as sound – throughout.
    Regardless of your budget, the initial site information package, RFP response, and any sales or catering contacts should all speak to the multi-sensory interplay between spaces, food & beverage, activities, entertainment, technology, and even off-site opportunities. Talking dollars, it can also make sense to consider convenient international destinations with significant exchange-rate savings too.
  2. Logistics Refine Location – Focus on venues that are equipped to facilitate your program from beginning to end. Locations that already have key elements like entertainment and transportation options all worked out free up your valuable time and can help maximize your event budget. With fewer vendors and on-site contacts to juggle, you can concentrate on the actual event experience and attendee satisfaction.
  3. Shareability Spells Success – Even if every attendee isn’t the type to post, today, successful event experiences are the ones that result in real-time sharing. Amplify your event’s impact and brand value by selecting a venue with a strong sense of place, post-worthy visuals, even non-traditional spaces, like an airplane hangar or roof deck. Check the venue’s own social media feeds. And don’t forget to ask your site contact about event elements to encourage sharing, like a photo booth, step-and-repeat, or branded entrance.
  4. Think Outside the City – While major cities will always be desirable meeting spots, smaller places often bring truly unique culture to the site selection process, while offering more bang for even the most generous budget. There’s nothing like nature, and outdoor events, to inspire attendees. Plus, top resorts are proven pros at incorporating “edutainment,” like spa breaks, golf clinics or cooking classes, into even the tightest agenda, engaging your already captive audience even more.
  5. Build for “Bleisure” – Event planner industry stats, like IACC reports, now show over 75% of attendees plan to enjoy leisure activities during their next work trip. The exponential growth of this “bleisure” or “workation” fusion is driven by our universal quest for unique experiences and time-crunched 21st century schedules. Smart planners are refining their site selections based on easy access to a variety of activities, as well as a destination’s overall appeal for pre- and post-stays, companion programs, or split itineraries.
  6. A for Authenticity – Whether you are looking for new venue choices or narrowing down your final site selection, embrace local culture and turn-key experiences that deliver the best of what is available in that destination. Nova Scotia is famed for its shoreline and seafood, as well as a growing winemaking, craft brewing and distilling scene. So, Fox Harb’r options include a boat tour to see seals on the way to a private beach oyster bar, a Lobster 101 lesson, and a wine-tasting dinner among the vines in the resort’s own sea-view vineyard.

Convinced it’s time to add “place” to “space, dates and rates” event planning? Want to learn more about our oceanside Nova Scotia venue? Simply email meetings@foxharbr.com or visit www.foxharbr.com/events

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On June 26, the sky was sunny and the thermometer hit 32 °C. There was no wind that day and the Northumberland Strait was like glass. That was the day Tiger Woods visited us and shot a 63, setting the course record.

The Day Tiger Woods Set the Fox Harb’r Resort Course Record

The spring of 2009 had been an especially cold and wet one, with the grey skies and choppy ocean you’d expect from the coast of Nova Scotia. But by the end of June, the weather had turned. On June 26, the sky was sunny and the thermometer hit 32 °C. Elliott Isenor, the Fox Harb’r director of golf operations, says there was no wind that day, recalling that “the Northumberland Strait was like glass.” That was the day Tiger Woods visited Fox Harb’r, shot 63, and set the course record.

Tiger was in Nova Scotia for a fundraiser for the Tiger Woods Foundation, which invests heavily in STEM educational programs aimed particularly at underprivileged and minority children. To help with the fundraiser, Tiger donated two rounds – a group of four on the front nine and a different group for the back nine.

The Fox Harb’r golf course is a bit different from most courses in that it blends parkland golf with a traditional Scottish-style links course. The outward nine winds through spruce trees, sculptured terrain, deep lakes, and wetlands. The back nine, however, is a pure rugged links course. Across rolling dunes and waving fescue, golfers must work hard to keep the ball low and away from the ocean.

Tiger usually spends his time shooting before the crowds and cameras. But that day, it was just Tiger and his groups of four. Those lucky golfers played a game with Tiger, with no onlookers. As far as fundraisers go, that’s pretty amazing, but one consequence was that no one else was actually keeping track closely enough to realize that Tiger was shooting the best game of golf ever played at Fox Harb’r Resort.

No doubt, Tiger made some astonishing shots and we’d love to tell you about them, but the only people who know exactly what happened are eight very lucky golfers and Tiger Woods himself.

Afterwards, Tiger said that he liked the layout of the course. But, according to Isenor, Tiger really emphasized that he “really liked how quiet and peaceful it was.”

The golf course at Fox Harb’r is still quiet and peaceful. And it’s still a challenge. And Tiger isn’t the only guy who shoots an incredible game here. Isenor says many guests step off the course and say, “That was one of the best rounds I have played in a long time,” rightly proud of 90. But no one has come close to beating Tiger’s score of 63.

Come shoot a memorable round of your own at Fox Harb’r Resort this year. Check out our Stay and Play packages now. Space is limited!

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GQ Insider Gary Williams covered the must-see attractions in Nova Scotia in this video. We were thrilled he included Fox Harb'r Resort on his itinerary.

Fox Harb’r Featured in GQ Insider Report

According to GQ, Nova Scotia is a place that everyone should add to their travel checklist. Last year, GQ Insider Gary Williams covered the must-see attractions in this Insider Report on Nova Scotia, and we were thrilled he included Fox Harb’r Resort on his itinerary.

Watch as Gary and his wife Dvon learn how to make the perfect lobster role with our Executive Chef, Shane Robillard. For the complete recipe, click here.

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If you’re a fisherman, you know there’s no feeling in the world like playing and landing a fish. Cast a line into one of the two ponds at Fox Harb’r, and you just might get to tangle with a trout. They’re fun to catch and make for a delicious meal.

How Fox Harb’r Does Trout Differently

“Still and all – I had lost it but in that moment I knew I was a fisherman.”

Mercy Among the Children, David Adams Richards

If you’re a fisherman, you know there’s no feeling in the world like playing and landing a fish. Cast a line into one of the two ponds at Fox Harb’r, and you just might get to tangle with a trout. They’re fun to catch and make for a delicious meal.

But here’s something interesting: the trout at Fox Harb’r are farmed.

Why Farm Trout?

Fox Harb’r has a rock retaining wall along its two and a half kilometres of ocean. All the rock was mined on the property, and these two small quarries have filled up with water. It made sense to stock these two ponds with trout.

After all, Fox Harb’r offers many options for the outdoor enthusiast. There’s sport shooting, sea kayaking, golf, and thanks to the trout, sport fishing. These trout may be farmed, but the only way to harvest them is with patience and a lure.

What Makes This Farmed Trout Different?

There are some differences between the way Fox Harb’r farms trout and the way it’s done on industrial farms. The biggest one is the water. Since the fish live in a closed system, there’s no effluent water affecting other waterways. Also, the ponds are significantly larger than they need to be to support the number of trout that live there.

These trout are fed a natural, organic fish food, but they get plenty of opportunity to catch the kinds of aquatic invertebrates that make up their natural diet. And, as Fox Harb’r chef Shane Robilliard says, this is one of the few trout farming operations that actually gives back to nature: “There are quite a number of natural predators that feed off these fish, so really we are supporting the environment with this operation.”

So when you cast your line, be advised that you may be competing with an osprey.

Cooking Trout

Chef Robilliard tells us, “The fact that we can catch and use these trout as part of our culinary program is just an amazing part of all this. The great thing about trout is its delicate flesh. It has a light, flaky texture with a clean flavour, as opposed to its fattier cousins, salmon and char.”

Clean and prepare a trout properly, and you can cook it on a camp stove and really appreciate its singular flavour. And, just in case you’re hankering for a delicious trout dish, here’s one from chef Robilliard.

Pan Seared Rainbow Trout with Minted Couscous and Brunoise Vegetables

Serves 2


1 whole rainbow trout or two filets of rainbow trout

2 cups light fish stock or chicken stock

Salt and pepper

3 sprigs mint, very finely sliced

2 cups couscous

3 oz all-purpose flour1 tsp finely chopped shallots

4 oz butter

½ yellow bell pepper, finely diced

½ red bell pepper, finely diced

2 oz carrot, finely diced

2 oz green zucchini, finely diced

2 oz yellow zucchini, finely diced

1 oz vegetable oil

Juice of one lemon

2 oz white wine

4 lemon segments (fine part of the lemon between the fibre that holds the lemon together)

Fresh chopped fine herbs

1 Tbsp capers

Edible flowers or micro greens for garnish


Step One

If you have a whole trout, you will need to fillet, debone, and dry the two filets of trout. If you are using a filet then you just need to dry it off.

Step Two

To make the couscous, bring stock to a boil and season well with salt and pepper. Add mint and couscous and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes.

Step Three

For the filet of trout, make three small incisions into the skin so that the trout doesn’t curl when it is put in the frying pan. Season well on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour on both sides. Heat pan to smoking, then fry with the skin side down until the skin is crisp; then turn over and finish for approximately eight minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Step Four

For the sauce, sauté shallot in 1 tbsp of the butter on medium heat, and then add all the other vegetables once the shallots are translucent. Add oil and lemon juice and simmer until reduced by three-quarters; add lemons, herbs, wine and capers and simmer for one minute. Reduce heat to very low and then add remaining butter, whisking until the butter is incorporated but not simmering. If you boil the butter, it won’t emulsify.

Step Five

To serve, spoon the couscous into the middle of the plate, lay the filet on top and then spoon half of the sauce and vegetables on top of the trout. Always serve with the skin side up in order to show off the nice crispy skin. Garnish with edible flowers or micro greens.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Come Home to Nova Scotia in 2019

5 Reasons Why You Should Come Home to Nova Scotia in 2019

Like a lot of Nova Scotians, maybe you’ve had to leave. Maybe you were pulled away by a career. Or you moved for the sake of family. Or you left for some other opportunity and just haven’t had the chance to come back.

Well, maybe it’s time to come home. We bet there’s a little Nova Scotia missing from your life.

It’s Getting Pretty Artisanal Around Here

Breweries, cheese makers, cideries, lavender farms, orchards, distilleries, vineyards . . . whatever small batch, artisanal thing you want, you can get it here. In fact, explore a bit and you’ll start to find all kinds of things you didn’t know you want but just have to have. Wild blueberry vodka? Yes, please.

The Ocean

Canada is a country of lakes. We have something like two million of them. And they’re very nice.

But there’s nothing quite like the ocean. Nothing beats standing on the shore and looking out across the all-consuming horizon, except maybe for watching a magnificent Atlantic storm from behind the shelter of a thick window while you’re safely ensconced in a cozy living room. And the views are just the beginning. The ocean provides a year-round bounty of seafood, amazing sailing, rich cultural history, and makes every day a little more breath-taking.

Even golf by the ocean is a whole new challenge.

Nothing Beats Fresh Seafood

Sure, when it comes to shipping seafood, they can do amazing things these days. Live lobster can be found in fishmongers and supermarkets far away from the sea, fresh (never frozen) fish gets shipped overnight, and in a pinch, even the flash frozen stuff isn’t half bad. But let’s be honest: there’s nothing like eating lobster so fresh that it was pulled from the ocean not a couple hours prior.

And of course, you can ensure optimal freshness by going out and getting your own. Quahog digging, anyone?

It’s the Most Beautiful Place in Canada

Sure, everyone else will disagree. But what do they know? If you’re a local, you know that nowhere else has such a range of beautiful spots. Like what? Like Lunenberg on an early misty morning. Or the autumn leaves you can find on the Cabot Trail. Or the fortress at Louisbourg. Or the red soil in the Valley. Or the blue-green waters in the quarries near Cheticamp. Or the spectacular, warm beaches of the Northumberland Shore. We could go on.

So You Can Show Outsiders What Nova Scotia Is Really Like

No doubt you’ve played this little parlour game: you’re at a social occasion, someone mentions that they’re thinking of visiting Nova Scotia, and suddenly your expertise is required. You need to tell them all the secret spots, which attractions are really just tourist traps, and whether or not they’ve made smart plans.

But we all know that there’s no better guide than a local, when you want to introduce Nova Scotia to a non-Maritimer, why not take matters into your own hands and show them around yourself?

The next time you return home to Nova Scotia, why not bring a few friends and give them the best possible taste of Nova Scotia life?  Or even better, why not invite them to experience all that Nova Scotia has to offer from your own seasonal home in the province?


Fox Harb’r Resort is proud to offer the homes of Marina Landing.  With sparkling glass and graceful woods, long and wide and overflowing with ocean light, these are as much galleries as homes, framing uninterrupted views of our marina, lighthouse, championship golf course and most of all, the Northumberland Strait. To be completed in 2020, these are the defining statement of Fox Harb’r founder Ron Joyce’s original vision for our 5-star resort: “Luxury without pretension, in one of themost beautiful places on earth.” Start your journey immediately by contacting Eric Lum at (902) 412-4812 or elum@foxharbr.com or by visiting foxharbr.com/marinalanding.

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Fox Harb'r-Resort Marina Landing Construction

Marina Landing Brings Residential Development to Fox Harb’r Waterfront

Construction is officially underway at the newest Fox Harb’r Resort residential development, Marina Landing, an enclave of only 12 sleek, two and four-bedroom Nova Scotia luxury homes right on the secluded Northumberland Shore, 90-minutes from Halifax.

Underground services installation and lot excavation are in progress. Marina Landing home exteriors will be completed next year, with inside work also starting next winter. Interior finishing and landscaping for the new Marina Landing residences will be done in summer 2020. And to avoid any disruption to residents, all 12 Marina Landing homes are being built out simultaneously.

Modern Living at Fox Harb’r Resort’s Deep-Water Marina

Designed by Halifax’s DRSA Architecture with interior finishes by Toronto’s DesignAgency, Marina Landing’s understated retreats are scaled to integrate seamlessly with the hillside surrounding Fox Harb’r Resort’s deep-water marina and landmark lighthouse.

Angled rooflines and dramatic glass fronts maximize each single-level home’s ocean views and natural light. Open plan great rooms, premium natural finishes and extensive flagstone terraces reflect the charm of waterfront living within. In addition, two stylish Marina Landing interior finishing packages are available so owners can choose their look  and enjoy turn-key vacation home ownership.

Marina Landing: Nova Scotia Vacation Homes with Five-Star Resort Services

“Meantime, the Fox Harb’r resort experience is already fully established,” says Kevin Toth, president of Fox Harb’r. “All our residents enjoy a genuine East Coast lifestyle along with their new home.”

“As a Fox Harb’r homeowner, you can play golf, get room service or  party catering, use the indoor pool, tennis, fitness and yoga rooms, make spa appointments, enjoy exclusive member events and do everything from sport shooting to paddle boarding and horseback riding, right here,” Toth notes.

Marina Landing luxury vacation homes start at $550,000 for 2-bedroom plus den residences and $675,000 for 4-bedroom residences. Additional Fox Harb’r home ownership opportunities range from $169,900 for 12 annual weeks of townhome ownership, to $1.6 million for fully furnished, move-in-ready detached homes. Serviced lots for custom build luxury homes are also available.

“What  Fox Harb’r owners appreciate most – as either vacationers or year-round residents – is the combination of a truly carefree residence and our Nova Scotia resort’s unique features,” explains Real Estate Sales & Marketing Manager Eric Lum.

World-Class Golf in Nova Scotia, Around the World

Beyond the resort’s top-rated Graham Cooke championship golf course and 9-hole executive course, Fox Harb’r homeowners also enjoy access to Pacific Links global golf course collection. Stand-out Fox Harb’r Resort features include a fully serviced private runway, one of North America’s top NSCA-accredited sport shooting ranges, and true farm-to-table dining.

In 2015, Fox Harb’r even established its own Nova Scotia resort vineyard in partnership with neighbouring Jost Vineyards. And the first Fox Harb’r private label vintage debuts in 2019. A bottle could be just the thing to toast your new Marina Landing home.

To learn more about Fox Harb’r real estate, including Marina Landing, or book a resort tour, visit www.foxharbr.com/residential.

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You’re missing out if you aren’t exploring Nova Scotia in the fall. Aside from legendary fall colours, you can find apple picking, all kinds of fall festivals, and your choice of cider, whiskey, or vodka tasting.

5 Ways to Explore Nova Scotia in the Fall

Quahog season is over, but you’re missing out if you aren’t exploring Nova Scotia in the fall. Aside from legendary fall colours, you can find apple picking, all kinds of fall festivals, and your choice of cider, whiskey, or vodka tasting. And some other spirits. Oh, and fall is chowder season. See? That’s the benefit of somewhere with multiple seafood seasons.

Apple Picking & Cider Tasting

Let’s say you want to visit a heritage orchard with over 100 varieties of apples, an artisanal cidery where they do everything from apple to bottle right there, and an apiary that takes care of local pollination. At Vista Vista Bella Farm, you get all three at once.

You can stop by their produce stand from now until Christmas, but it’s worth a longer visit for their U-Pick apples. Of course, different varieties of apples peak at different times, so consult this handy little chart to see what’s in season. U-Pick starts September 1 and goes until November 1.

Vista Bella Farm also operates Malagash Cidery. Stop by for a tasting and see just how many types of cider are out there. And remember, local bottles of cider make for great gifts.

Whiskey Tasting (And Other Spirits Too)

The history of spirits in Nova Scotia is long and colourful, from the backyard stills of the early settlers to the rum-running during American Prohibition. Now, the craft distilling movement has taken hold. Thanks to creative distillers and amazing agriculture, you can try all kinds of unique spirits in Nova Scotia.

At Caldera Distilling, you can try whiskey made from grains grown on the distillery property, blended whiskey made with regional grains, and rum made from fresh sugar cane.

At Steinhart Distillery, you can try a  maple vodka, habanero vodka, coffee maple vodka, strawberry vodka, wild blueberry vodka, and rhubarb gin. And they may come up with some other stuff after we’re done writing this. So you’ll just have to visit and see what’s on the bar rail.

Leaf Peeping in Nova Scotia

Step aside, fields of sunflowers. We all know the real champions of Instagram are views of fall foliage. No matter where you’re travelling in Nova Scotia, there will be a great view of changing leaves near you.

The Balmoral Grist Millis a red clapboard building nestled in a wooded gorge. It’s the closest you’ll get to a real-life Norman Rockwell paining. It’s open until October 6, which is close to the peak colour week.

Although better known as a ski area, the Wentworth Valleywill give you a panoramic view of amazing fall foliage through the Cobequid Hills.

If you like waterfalls with your fall foliage, be sure to visit Victoria Park, a thousand-acre provincial park in  Truro. Challenge yourself to the 175-step climb to the top of Jacob’s Ladder.

And if you have a bit of an explorer streak in you, visit Tidnish Suspension Bridge, which can be found at Tidnish Crossroads, near Amherst. This swinging bridge leads to the Henry Ketchum Hiking Trail. This four-kilometre trail offers not only spectacular views of fall colours, but of the Northumberland Strait itself.

For more adrenaline in your leaf peeping, go to Anchors Above Zipline, in French River. They have the only zipline in Nova Scotia, so if you want to take pictures of fall colours with a GoPro, this is the place to do it.

Fall Festivals in Nova Scotia

Did you know the largest Oktoberfest east of Ontario is in Nova Scotia? Tatamagouche Oktoberfest is in late September, but tickets usually sell out sometime in August, so make plans soon.

What happens at the Jost Vineyards Harvest Festival with the Streamliners? Wine tasting, harvest-inspired food parings, live music with the aforementioned Streamliners, and a special festival menu. Admission is free, so swing by on Saturday, October 13.

If you’re looking for something crafter and kid-friendly, try the River John Sunday Market. Featuring wagon rides, barbecue, a wool shop, local produce, and the opportunity to meet baby lambs, this market runs through mid-September.

Another fun kid-friendly festival is the Trenton Fall Fest, happening mid-October. It’s a street fair with face painting, costumes, vendors, street performers, and a pumpkin hunt. Find all six pumpkins and win a book!

Nova Scotia Chowder Trail

Of all the ways we can celebrate chowder, a trail may be the best. Nova Scotia chowder typically comes with more than four types of seafood, starting with haddock or another white fish, before being built out with scallops, lobster, mussels, or claims. There are endless  ways to make it, and by following the Chowder Trail, you sample the many delicious possibilities. And by ‘many’, we mean more than fifty.

You can just eat at these fantastic restaurants, but you also have the option of collecting stamps (physical or digital) to fill your Chowder Trail passport. Collect more than five and you’re eligible for a grand prize drawing.  But the real prize is the friendships you’ll make along the way. And all the chowder you get to eat.

Check out Fox Harb’r Resort’s special packages and rates for fall here.

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Sure you can spend your time on the Northumberland Shore playing golf, relaxing at the spa, and gorging on lobster. But there’s lots more going on here.

9 Must-See Attractions on Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore

It would be perfectly reasonable to spend your time on the Northumberland Shore playing golf, relaxing at the spa, and gorging on lobster. Perfectly reasonable. However, there’s more going on here than a completely decadent existence.

Cape George Hiking Trail & Lighthouse

It’s just a fact that when you visit Nova Scotia you need to stop and admire at least one historic lighthouse. It’s a matter of time before that rule makes it into the provincial law books. Not to play favourites, but the Cape George lighthouse makes for a beautiful picture. You can hike out there from one of three trailheads, see some old growth forest, and enjoy a picnic on a seaside cliff.

Bay Enterprises

The Purdy family has been growing oysters since 1876, so they know a thing or two about aquaculture. Visit for a guided quahog dig. Or, try their oyster learning experience, which will tell you everything you need to know about traditional and modern oyster growing, protecting the Northumberland Shore’s ecology, and the oyster industry. And yes, samples are available. Necessary, even.

Music at the Grace Jollymore Arts Centre

If you fancy a concert, the Grace Jollymore Arts Centre is hosting Tony Quinn and Bill Plaskett, Sean McCann of Great Big Sea, Unforseen, and Kitchen Party featuring Keith Mullins. Check their website for details.

Arisaig Provincial Park

Yearning for a simpler time? Well, try fossil hunting, there was no time simpler than pre-history. Home to the most exposed sections of Silurian rock you can find in North America, Arisaig Provincial Park offers a look at life on earth 400 million years ago. Bring your camera and hunt for fossils along a 1.6 km looped trail.

McCulloch House Museum & Genealogy Centre

If your family arrived in Canada via Nova Scotia, be sure to stop by the McCulloch House Museum & Genealogy Centre. They have all kinds of community history resources, like newspapers, and plenty of cemetery, immigration, census, and shipping records. You might discover a piece of your history here.

Seafoam Lavender Garden

What does heaven smell like? Lavender, we bet. A trip to Seafoam Lavender Garden will make you agree. You’ll learn all you want to know about lavender, try some tasty lavender treats (we hear ice cream during their festival), and peruse more lavender products than you knew existed. Fair warning: your luggage will smell amazing.

Wallace Bay Wildlife Trail

An astonishing 168 species of birds have been recorded at Wallace Bay Wildlife Trail on the Northumberland Shore so don’t forget your binoculars. This four-kilometre looped trail through wetlands offers plenty of great spots for bird watching.

Northumberland Fisheries Museum, Lobster Hatchery & Lighthouse

At the main museum, you’ll learn about the Northumberland Shore’s history of boat building, fishing, and shipwrecks. The lobster hatchery, which is a working facility, will teach you everything you want to know about lobster lifecycles. And finally, the lighthouse is a replica of a 1905 structure, featuring photographs, artifacts, and more. If you expect to learn on your vacation, this place is a triple threat.

Jost Vineyards

You know that there are tours, a gift shop, gourmet food, and dozens of spots to relax and take in the vineyard. However, the truly great thing about vineyards is that learning about wine means drinking wine. And by the way, Jost Vineyards has award-winning wines. So swing by and be sure to spend an hour or two learning as much as possible.

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Nova Scotia grows some very special oysters. And the Malagash oysters farmed just minutes from Fox Harb'r Resort are among the very best.

Malagash Oysters: A Taste of the Northumberland Shore

It was a bold soul who first ate an oyster. Sometimes that saying gets attributed to Jonathan Swift, but it may predate him. And sure, whosoever first decided to try the briny little vaguely embryonic-looking things was indeed bold. Or at least hungry. But it should also be pointed out that credit shouldn’t go to the first oyster eater. The truly glorious soul is the one who decided to keep eating oysters.

The Terroir of Oysters

Saying you’ll have some oysters is like saying you’ll have some wine. Specificity is the order of the day. There are varieties from all around the world, and they’re all different. And Nova Scotia grows some very special oysters.

At least, that’s the opinion of Kelly Peck, oyster shucker at Rodney’s in Toronto. Rodney’s is the kind of place with its own oyster menu, featuring north of twenty different oyster varieties on any given day. Having shucked tens of thousands of Nova Scotia oysters, Peck says: “Where an oyster from Malpeque Bay, PEI, or from Lamèque, New Brunswick, tends to be very mild in flavour and low in salinity, and finish with a notable sweetness, Nova Scotia oysters are a little more robust in both flavour and salinity, but not as sweet.”

If you happen to know your oyster varieties, think of Nova Scotia oysters this way: “They are almost a perfect halfway point between the world famous Malpeque and a mid-Atlantic oyster from Cape Cod or Long Island.”

Malagash Oysters

Of course, terroir can get really specific. At Fox Harb’r Resort chef Shane Robilliard swears by the oysters produced near the Malagash Peninsula, where “the sandy soils give the oyster a sweet and briny taste with a light texture.”

Malagash oysters are the product of the Purdy family, who have been producing oysters since 1867. That’s a lot of expertise. Chef Shane says they “have a flavour profile that is second to none, slightly briny and with a slightly sweet finish.”

More Nova Scotia Oysters

You could conceivably tour Nova Scotia by eating your way through the province’s many oysters. If you don’t have the fortune to find some Malagash oysters produced by the Purdy family, Kelly Peck recommends trying these three varieties.

Shan Daph Oysters: These can be found at Big Island. Peck says they have a “spectacular” flavour and are consistently excellent.

Macintosh Oysters: These can be found in Merigomish. They are at peak quality now. Peck says, “They have a thickness to the meat and a very salty finish.”

Ruisseau Oysters: These can be found at Eel Lake. Peck says, “These oysters pack a punch for their size.” He recommends pairing them with a very dry white wine.

Are we overthinking things, talking about oyster varieties? No. According to Chef Shane, “The terroir will work its magic in anything you do to an oyster: stew, chowder, raw, fried, anything. And the Malagash Oyster adds the essence of the Northumberland shore to a dish.”

On the Shores of This Bay from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

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We’re passionate about wine because we’re passionate about food. But once we considered making our own wine, we realized how much more there is to know.

Lessons from Starting a Vineyard in Nova Scotia

To learn a lot about wine, you can start attending classes, subscribe to wine magazines, join tasting groups, ask a lot of questions at wine bars, and even start taking very detailed tasting notes with every glass.

Or you can start your own vineyard and learn it all from the ground up. Guess what we did at Fox Harb’r Resort?

And look, we get it. Walk into your local liquor store and you’ll see sections for France, Chile, California – but probably not Nova Scotia. But that’s okay. Not everyone has the pluck to make great wine in a place more famous for lobster.

We’ve learned a few things along the way.

There’s Always More to Know About Wine

We’re passionate about wine because we’re passionate about food. In fact, our resort restaurant wine menu is nineteen pages long with over 500 listings. We’ve stocked bottles from around the world.

But once we considered starting our own vineyard in Nova Scotia, we realized how much more there is to know, like the impact of soil and weather. Our vineyard manager, Aaron Little, says: “My job is to relate what’s happening in the field to the characteristics of the grape and ultimately the wine it produces.”

This means carefully watching the different growth characteristics of each variety. Looking at the sizes of grapes and bunches to be harvested. Measuring Brix – or sugar – levels before harvesting. Every step of the way builds expertise.

Nova Scotia Likes to Challenge Winemakers

Nova Scotia has a lot of clay soil. As you might imagine, this makes growing things a bit difficult. Particularly in the spring, with everything so wet.

Another fact about clay soil: it demands continuous cultivation. Why? To ensure proper surface drainage and water penetration. That’s why Aaron has to run ploughs down the rows regularly.

A Vineyard Is Even More Work Than You’d Think

No one is under the illusion that growing a whole vineyard in Nova Scotia is easy. Vineyards look calm and idyllic, especially during summer winery tours, but looks can be deceiving.

Most of the work comes before the vineyard is producing anything. We’re investing a great deal of manpower in training young vines properly. Vine training is important for canopy management, balancing the weight of the fruiting vines, spreading out fruiting zones, and preventing excessive shading. Next time you’re on a winery tour and want to learn something really interesting, ask about how they train vines.

There’s also a great deal of work to be done in the winter. A mature vineyard requires pruning and lots of it. That’s a job for the colder months. You can imagine how fun this might be in a vineyard in Nova Scotia in February!

Nova Scotia Makes Some Unique, Amazing Wine

Aaron tells us, “Our cool climate and typically acidic soils promote the growth of hardy varieties.” Do you like white wines with a crisp and fruitful flavour? Then Nova Scotia wine is for you.

In fact, Nova Scotia has its own varietal, one that Aaron is proud to promote. “L’Acadie Blanc is a white wine grape that is well known in Nova Scotia’s industry as it is hardy and grows very well here.” Appellation America describes it as Nova Scotia’s Chardonnay, writing that L’Acadie Blanc “has a naturally crisp acidity, to balance a broad, full-bodied palate with apple and citrus characteristics.”

And we are going even further. We’ve partnered with our Northumberland Shore neighbours Jost Vineyards to create our very own version of “Tidal Bay” wine, a signature Nova Scotia vintage that brilliantly reflects the terroir, coastal breezes and cooler climate of this place.

Our Sommelier and Executive Chef Shane Robilliard loves working with these wines. He tells us that Nova Scotia is well known around the world for its seafood and that Tidal Bay was created specifically as a companion to the wonderful lobster, scallops and oysters available here. This bounty can be paired perfectly with any of the 13 Tidal Bay wines available from Nova Scotia vineyards.

So what are you waiting for? Isn’t it high time to introduce a little Nova Scotia into your wine cellar?  And visit the vineyard at Fox Harb’r?

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