Vineyard program helps boost amount of land for grape growing: deputy minister

Nova Scotia has increased the amount of land being used to grow grapes for its fledgling wine industry by about 40 per cent over the last four years.

Frank Dunn, deputy minister of agriculture, says the expansion bodes well for an industry he insists is gaining worldwide repute but one that requires patience.

Dunn says the increase in acreage is critical to Nova Scotia's nascent wine business, which brought in $17.5 million in sales last year.

Dunn was speaking at a committee hearing looking at wine development since the $12-million Vineyard and Wineries Investment Program was introduced in 2014 to help grow the industry by helping expand acreage, research and marketing.

He says there are now 16 wineries in the province and the industry employs roughly 640 people directly.

The department says about 255 hectares of land were being used to grow grapes in 2014 compared to about 360 hectares dedicated to grape production last year.