About Us

welcome to Johnston Vineyards

A Little Bit About us

Johnston Vineyards was established in 2013 to grow the best quality wine grapes possible in Nova Scotia. Great grapes make great wine! With this website, we describe our start in the vineyard business in Upper Falmouth on the Avon River. We hope it provides motivation and guidance for future Nova Scotian viticulturists (see blog and news under the menu for seasonal updates!)

Coming Home

Don’s father, Lee Johnston was born in Cape Breton and his people came to Nova Scotia with the Scottish settlers in the later 1700’s. Don’s mother, Helen Knock came from German folks who settled Lunenburg County in the 1750’s. Don was born in the Windsor Hospital and after a couple of days went to live on Avon St in Hants Border, Kings County. He went to school in Hantsport and Horton District High School. He attended Acadia University…..

View of Martock Mountain in the distance.
Sharon and Don in 2013 at the Newport Landing wharf on the Avon River.

welcome to Johnston Vineyards

The Fmaily

In 1978 he met Sharon (Mulvagh) while sailing out of the Lunenburg Yacht Club. Sharon was born in Ottawa and graduated from the University of Ottawa before completing an internship at Dalhousie medical school.  She went to Boston with Don where she completed her residency in internal medicine at Boston University. She completed her training in cardiology in 1989 at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, before joining the Department of cardiology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, in 1990 after a yearlong stint at NASA, Johnson Space Center. They have 3 kids, Jessica (born in Houston), Julianna and James (both born in Rochester, MN). Don hopes that one day they will join their parents in the vineyard (but he is not holding his breath!). Jessica would make a skilled horticulturist, Julie is the sales wizard and James is a businessman.  There will always be enough land to start a winery if they become so inclined, but for now the vineyard is the focus.
The Avon River

The Avon River

The Avon River is a tidal river that flows past Hantsport, once a famous port of call for sailing ships in the 1800’s, into the Minas Basin and on to the Bay of Fundy. Don lived on Avon Street, on the outskirts of  Hantsport and spent a lot of time playing on the river. Its amazing tides and ocean going ships carrying gypsum to the United States fascinated him. There were rowboats and wharfs to build in the summer and icebergs to climb in the winter. Swimming in muddy water when the tide was up and fishing tommy cod on the incoming tide kept him busy.

The transformation spring 2015!
The transformation spring 2015!

Restoring the Hall

The land for the Upper Falmouth Community Hall was given to the trustees of the “Falmouth Village Hall” by Inglis Smith, a prominent farmer in the area on April 6, 1908. The gift was to remain with the trustees as long as the hall remained in good condition and continued to be used as a village hall. Should this cease to be situation the land and the building remains would revert back to the owners of the original land, either Inglis Smith or a subsequent owner. As the Hall was about to be condemned and was inhabitable (for humans that is, raccoons had been making it home for years!), it was determined that it should revert back to the current land owner, Johnston Vineyards Incorporated. The decision to renovate the building rather than tear it down was made in consultation with Bob Wilson, a …


Getting Started

The new vineyard owner needs a strong guiding purpose! The primary goal of Johnston Vineyards is to produce great Nova Scotia wine grapes. Great grapes make great wine! This should be done in a sustainable manner that requires care of the land the grapes are grown on. Farming organically or at least restricting the amount of chemicals put on the land may achieve this goal. It seems logical that by treating the land with natural products the grape vines will be more able to maintain….

The Gallery