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Jul 30, 2010 08:15 AM

Grocery and Alcoholic Beverage Stores in Nova Scotia

We will be traveling to Nova Scotia in early September and are looking for grocery recommendations. We will be flying into Halifax and spending a week exploring the north and south shores from Northwest Cove. We then have a second week in Cape Breton, where we will be staying in Port Hood. Any suggestions on grocery stores as well as unique purveyors of local fare? We have rented houses so we will have kitchens where we plan to take breakfast and our eveing meals. Lastly, is it correct that all alcoholic beverages for home consumption must be purchased at the Nova Scotia Liquor stores? Thanks!

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  1. Regarding alcohol: while the vast majority is sold through the NSLC, there are also 4 private specialty stores in Halifax that have a small but unique selection of products, most of which are not found at the NSLC. Also, local wineries are able to sell their products at their winery stores and also tend to make appearances at various farmers markets throughout the province. The NSLC stores themselves tend to vary from small, community style stores to large, attractive stores with a broad assortment. Also, the Port of Wines store on Doyle St in Halifax is the place to go for high-end wines.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Greg B

      Thanks Greg. Do you have any suggestions on reasonably priced interesting wines?

      1. re: little debbie

        hi little debbie,
        i know your question is posed to greg, but i thought i'd warn you NOT to try the blueberry wine - not sure of the name though. the bottle says it's won some prize but it's highly revolting.
        i'm going to dig up the name of the only Jost wine that I can recommend... will post soon!

        1. re: growinggourmet

          Thanks growing gourmet. We will be in NS celebrating the 50th birthdays of three of our friends (there will be five of us) and we most likely will be drinking a fair amount of wine. We lean toward the dry reds and whites, and we unfortunately do not have an unlimited budget for the grape. I do not have a handle on the wines of NS so any guidance is greatly appreciated, as well as tips on where we may find the best wine deals. We are very adventurous, along the lines of dry style wines. Thanks so much.

          1. re: little debbie

            We just came back from a trip to the NS, PEI, and NL. I tried a few glasses from Jost and Grand Pre (both NS wineries) at restaurants. Honestly I was not too impressed. Jost was alright. But Grand Pre was a bit disappointing. Granted, I did not do any research ahead of time to look into the wineries or the varietals that grow well in NS.

            We did like many of the microbrews though. Garrison was our favorite micro-brewery. If your group likes whisky, you should visit the Glen Breton distillery in Cape Breton too.

            1. re: cecilia

              Reds do not seem to do well in the Nova Scotian Climate. I've had some nice Seyval Blanc from Gaspereau... as well as a nice crisp rose from the same winery. Other NS roses are sweeter and not as interesting.

              1. re: eastcoastal

                I couldn't agree more with eastcoastal's assessment of NS reds, I generally avoid them. That said, I have really come around to NS whites. I quite enjoyed a Gaspereau Muscat back in the spring. Paired with fiddleheads it was lovely. I think that it would go quite well with asparagus as well. Like was mentioned elsewhere in this thread, if you are in the valley, you can visit the Gaspereau Winery (and several of the other Valley wineries as well). I was at Gaspereau in the spring and we did a tasting of a number of their wines, which is how we discovered we like the Muscat.

                I think some others have mentioned local beers in this post. Propellor in Halifax has great beers - their Pilsener is easy drinking especially in hot weather and I really enjoy their Porter if you want something darker. Propellor beers are available from NSLC liquor stores. I have also become a recent convert to Picaroons Beers (which are from New Brunswick). I believe they can be purchased at the private liquor store by the Pete's on Dreseden Row in Halifax -- not sure about other locations.

                1. re: parleek

                  Nova Scotia wines I purchased at the 2009 Port of Wines Festival:
                  Gaspereau Vineyards 2008 Seyval Blanc, which was the top scoring NS table wine at the show
                  L'Acadie Vineyards L'Acadie Brut, which is produced using the traditional Champagne method

                  from 2008's Festival, I took home Jost Vineyard's 2007 Vidal Cayuga, which was that year's top scoring NS table wine, and won a silver medal from Tasters Guild International

    2. I recommend "Pete's Frootique" for groceries. There is one in Halifax on Dresden Row, just off Spring Garden Road (very easy to find, very popular street) and one in Bedford, which is about 20 minutes from downtown Halifax. I ifnd the produce fresher and more varied than any other grocery stores, and they have nice dry goods as well.

      Both Pete's locations have one of the previously mentioned private liquor stores nearby, making for one-stop shopping.

      Enjoy your visit to our lovely province:)

      5 Replies
      1. re: CanadaGirl

        Thanks CanadaGirl. We are very excited about this trip. A couple of us are "Canadaphiles" and we have had Nova Scotia on our radar for about 5 years. Any must do or sees that you could share? we really like to do just about anything, but most important we like to experience our destination to the fullest and do not go out for fancy restaurant, resorts, etc. Thanks again.

        1. re: little debbie

          I always have a hard time with the "must do or sees"; you'd think it would be easy, given that I've lived here my whole life!! I would definitely go tidal bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River. There are so many beautiful spots to see, but they are not really alongthe major highways. I would recommend driving along the "old" highways, such as Highway 1 to the Annapolis Valley instead of the 101.

        2. re: CanadaGirl

          I'll second Pete's. Outside of the local public markets, they have the best fruit and veg in the area. Where wine is concerned, we buy most of our wine at Gaspereau Vineyrards. We're in the area so buy it at the vineyard directly but you can find many of their wines in the liquor store.

          1. re: johnnyspade

            If you're planning on exploring the province, I am going to suggest you hit the Farmers' Markets in Halifax, Lunenburg and Wolfville if you can. There are also some individual farm markets that are worth visiting throughout Wolfville (Noggins Farm and Hennigars are standouts, and are really charming in the fall). There is also the Fox Hill Cheesehouse nearby, where you can pick up some freshly made cheeses along with some delicious imports. The farmers' markets will be your best way to get local stuff. You can also check out local wineries there, too, which makes shopping much easier.

            Check out for a list of markets across the province.

            For some specialty items, Pete's is great. Within Halifax, Bishop's Cellar is your best bet for wines, while Premier Wines & Spirits has a better selection if imported beers. (Check the expiries, though! I know folks have had problems with that -- which parleek can attest to.) The Propeller and Garrison stores are both worth a visit, too, if you're looking for local beer.

            1. re: johnnyspade

              I would say that the best Gaspereau wines are not to be found in the regular NSLC stores, but in the private stores (Bishop's Cellar, in Bishop's Landing on the waterfront, or Premier Wine and Spirits in Dresden Market - same place as the downtown Pete's), or at the vineyard, where you can actually walk through the vines (tasted some of the raw materials while there last year).

              The wine industry is really just starting to take off, so while there are some really good wines (only whites, in my experience), there are also plenty of mediocre or disappointing wines. If you want recommendations on specific wines, I have always found the staff at Bishop's Cellar particularly helpful