Last updated: November 19, 2020
The following is an alphabetical listing of Alberta’s producers of fruit wine and mead (honey wine). Scroll down to the bottom for details about Alberta’s cottage winery history and legislation.
Barr Estate Winery
Barr Estate was founded in 2010 by Rick and Amy Barr, a pair of University of Alberta medical researchers who decided to become winemakers. They teamed up with Amy’s parents, Mike and Jeanette Cholowsky, who invested in their business and donated the seedlings that were used to plant their orchard. After holding steady for a few years with their original pair of wines (raspberry and rhubarb), Barr Estate added a couple new wines in 2017 (rhubarb and strawberry) and then again in 2019 (sour cherry fortified).
- The Barb (rhubarb)
- The Other Red (raspberry)
- The Rhuby (rhubarb & strawberry)
- The Jewel (sour cherry fortified)
Location: Sherwood Park
Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery
This was the second winery to open in the province and is currently the only certified organic winery here. The winery opened in 2005 by Victor Chrapko, a former hog farmer who converted his operation to an organic fruit orchard and U-pick back in 1999. Chrapko and his wife, Elizabeth, lobbied the government for six years to get the legislation changed to allow cottage wineries. Their daughter, Xina, currently runs the winery, which re-branded to Birds and Bees in 2011 (the original name was en Santé). In 2019, they launched a line of spirits including different types of fruit vodkas and a choke cherry brandy.
- Kinky Cranberry (high bush cranberry)
- Honey I Have Meads (honey)
- Little Flirt Rhubarb (rhubarb)
- Hard Core Apple (apple)
- Sassy Saskatoon Berry (saskatoon)
- Roll in the Hay (alfalfa)
- Big Tease Raspberry (raspberry)
- Cherry Likes it On Top (cherry)
- Multiple Berry Orgasm (various fruit)
- Smokin Organic Saskatoon (saskatoon & hemp)
Broken Tine Orchard
It’s a funny-looking berry with a funny-looking name, admits Kreg Alde, but haskap berries are uniquely suited to a northern climate. Alde started his haskap orchard in 2012 on the same land that his great-grandfather homestead back in 1926. With a flavour similar to huckleberries, haskaps have great potential as a new commercial crop. Broken Tine has created a few foods using haskaps, including a honeyberry cheesecake made by Foothills Creamery, as well as a haskap mead. They also partnered with Grain Bin Brewing in Grande Prairie to make a haskap stout.
- Haskap Melomel (haskap & honey)
- Haskap Melomel with Ginger (haskap, ginger & honey)
- HasRas (haskap, raspberry & honey)
Location: Grande Prairie
Chinook Arch Meadery
Chinook Arch is Alberta’s original meadery, founded in 2008 by Cherie and Art Andrews. They sell mead and pretty much every other bee-related item you can think of: honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and various bath and body products. They host events out at their farm, including their annual Viking festival, a celebration of mead as the ancient beverage of choice for Viking warriors – complete with battle re-enactments.
- Cherry Seduction Fortified Mead (cherry & honey)
- Raspberry Redemption (raspberry)
- King Arthur’s Dry (honey)
- Asgard’s Ambrosia (honey)
- Black & Blue Mead (black currant, blueberry & honey)
- Bodacious Black Currant Mead (black currant)
- John Cameron Classic Mead (honey)
- Melissa’s Gold (honey)
- Guinevere’s Elixir (honey)
- Fire ‘n Spice Mead (honey & spices)
- Summer Sassation Mead (saskatoon & honey)
- Buckaroo Buckwheat Mead (honey)
- Ginger Bochet Mead (honey & spices)
- Vanilla Bochet Mead (honey & spices)
Delidais Estate Winery & Distillery
D&A Gardens is the oldest commercial grower of saskatoon berries in the world. Owners Dave and Arden Delidais have been growing 19 varieties of saskatoons since 1975, in addition to black currants, cherries, apples and chokecherries. They launched Delidais Estate Winery in the summer of 2020, adding fruit wines and liqueurs to their robust line of farm-fresh products, which also includes U-pick fruit, nursery plants, gelato, sparkling juices, fruit preserves, sauerkraut, bird boxes and bat hotels. Their wine labels are an intriguing window into the stories of their family’s previous generations and section 24, the area where D&A Gardens was developed.
- Back Breaker Black Currant
- Bootlegger Cherry
- Contraband Chokecherry
- Determined Yellow Chokecherry
- Farm Boy Saskatoon
- Fearless Apple
- Sodbuster Rhubarb
- Sweetheart Strawberry
- Trapper Dessert Chokecherry
Hives at the foot of the mountains: the Ryan family established a farm and its first beehives back in 1969 in the foothills of the Rockies. This gives their bees access to the many wildflowers that cover the hills, but limits their exposure to the croplands in the east (many of which are sprayed with pesticides). The meadery was established in 2010 by brothers Colin and Nathan Ryan. After beginning with just a couple different styles, they’ve since expanded to a robust product line-up that includes forays into session meads, a carbonated hybrid between beer and traditional mead.
- Traditional Mead (honey)
- Sweet Mead (honey)
- Saskatoon Mead (saskatoon, crabapple & honey)
- Pyment (wine grapes from Naramata, French oak & honey)
- Mr. Pink session mead (apple, raspberry & honey)
- Meadjito (mint, lime & honey)
- Hopped Mead (hops & honey)
- Honey Buck (lemon, ginger & honey)
Location: Water Valley
Field Stone Fruit Winery
Marvin Gill was a main lobbyist for the cottage winery legislation and his winery claims the title of being Alberta’s very first fruit winery (by a few hours). Coming from a farming background, Gill pushed for the change so as to profit from his excess fruit. Field Stone enlisted the aid of winemaker Dominic Rivard, a renowned specialist in fruit wine making, to develop their product line, which spans both dry table wines and sweet fortified dessert wines. (Rivard has assisted a number of Canadian fruit wineries over the years, including a few in Alberta.)
- Black Currant
- Bumble Berry (saskatoon, raspberry, strawberry & rhubarb)
- Wild Black Cherry
Fireside Winery & Market Garden
Starting a winery as a retirement project sounds like a great idea – if you don’t mind not actually retiring! Marci and Larry Heck built up their orchard for the last 10 years and launched their winery with an ambitious lineup of eight different single-variety fruit wines. They hope to add two more types in 2017, plum and crabapple. Located just northeast of Stettler, Fireside is well situated for winery tours and they hosted quite a few of those last summer and hope to do more this year.
- Black Currant
- Mongolian Cherry
- Evans Cherry
Grey Owl Meadery
A radio segment on Alberta’s cottage wine industry planted the seed in Arleen Schwengler’s mind, which later sprouted into Grey Owl Meadery. As she and her husband, Walter, were approach retirement age and looking to leave their careers in the oilfield, they decided to get into beekeeping and winemaking. Together with their son Caleb, they began learning the trade and formed Grey Owl Meadery. They’ve released three meads so far, with another two in the works.
- Hot Apple Pie (apples & honey)
- Cherry & Hibiscus Juliet (Juliet cherries, hibiscus tea, French oak & honey)
- Pear (pears, cardamom & honey)
- Pinot (Pinot Gris wine grapes & honey)
- Haskap (haskap & honey)
- Bochet (honey)
- Sassy Apple (apples, saskatoon & honey)
- Elderflower Cyser (apples & honey)
- Orange Cat (Oraniensteiner wine grapes & honey)
- Spring (honey)
- Black Currant (black currant & honey)
- Cranberry (cranberry, orange peel & honey)
- Summer (honey)
- Wild (honey)
Location: Alder Flats
Art Lipon is a man of many visions. This former high school teacher set up his small fruit winery in 2013 on the west side of Saskatoon Lake in Grande Prairie, where a unique microclimate allows the fruit to thrive in the far north. He immediately began dreaming big – tapping into the overseas market, expanding to spirit distillation. While he hasn’t made any progress on the former, he’s in the process of setting up a distillery. He hopes to use his grandfather’s recipes to make gin, vodka, fortified wine and a grain-fruit home brew.
Location: Grande Prairie
Shady Orchard & Winery
This family run-fruit winery, owned and operated by William and Kristy Gordon, evolved out of the Gordon’s U pick farm. They sell a range of fruit wines as well as syrups made from their own fruit, using recipes passed down through their family.
- Mixed Berry (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry & saskatoon)
Location: Big Lakes County
Shady Lane Estate – CLOSED December 2019
Founders Daniel and Edith Zrdodowski started winemaking as a value-add to their U-pick operation and also tended alpacas on their small family farm. They released a pair of fruit wines in 2016. In December 2019, they closed the winery and pivoted to distilling. They opened West of the 5th Distillery and Bar in early 2020.
Wine list (no longer available):
- Erdbeeren (raspberry)
- Rhubarber (rhubarb)
Spirit Hills Flower Winery
Straddling the line between mead and fruit wine, Spirit Hills winemaker Hugo Bonjean makes his wine using traditional techniques, such as fermenting the entire honeycomb and incorporating various local fruits and botanicals. A native of Antwerp with a family that includes several generations of French winemakers, Bonjean has built a beautiful tasting facility in the foothills of the Rockies.
- Saskwatch (saskatoon, black currant & honey)
- Dande (rose hips, herbs, dandelion & honey)
- Wild Rosy (wild rose, rose hips, herbs & honey)
- YeeHaa! (apple, black currant, cinnamon & honey)
- Bonfire (black currant, cinnamon, cloves & honey)
Stolen Harvest Meadery
Tucked up in the boreal forest of northern Alberta close to Grande Prairie, Stolen Harvest Meadery was founded by husband and wife team Eric Erme and Kristeva Dowling. They opened the meadery because they feel it is a way to support the honey industry and therefore support bees – and they love mead! Kristeva is the mead maker and recipe developer, who makes micro-batches in which the fruit is added prior to fermentation to create more complex flavour profiles.
- Saskatoon (saskatoon, Hungarian oak & honey)
- Bochet (honey)
- Coffee Bochet (coffee & honey)
Tamarack Jack’s Honey & Meadery
After starting with a 450-hive apiary, Tamarack Jack’s expanded into mead production in 2017. In addition to their traditional mead they have several flavoured meads including various seasonal releases and sparkling meads.
- Buzzsaw (honey)
- Sawyer (hops & honey)
- Sougan (hops, mulling spices & honey)
- Jack’s Axe (squash, spices & honey)
- Tillicum (cherry & honey)
- Klooch (strawberry & honey)
- Rough Cut (apple, rhubarb & honey)
- Brush Monkey (raspberry, blackberry & honey)
- Timber Beast (beet & honey)
- Katydid (black currant, pear & honey)
- Sugar Bush (maple, cranberry, honey)
- Quinine Jimmy (pomegranate & honey)
Alberta Fruit Wine History and Legislation
Alberta introduced the cottage winery licence (Class E) in 2005 as a value-add proposition to diversify existing agricultural operations, such as U-pick fruit farms, which often barely break even. Initially there were minimum production requirements attached to the Class E licence, which were removed in 2013 to allow the expansion of the industry and entrance of smaller producers. However, the licence still has standards ensuring that if you want to make fruit or honey wine in Alberta, you have to become a fruit grower or beekeeper first. The producer must grow or produce 80% of the product (fruit and/or honey) used to make the wine.
Berries are most commonly used to make wine in Alberta, including raspberries, strawberries, various kinds of cherries and saskatoons. You can also find wines made from apples, rhubarb and even alfalfa. A few operations are devoted solely to honey wine (mead).
No one makes grape wines in Alberta on a commercial scale, as wine grapes (Vitis vinifera) simply cannot survive our harsh winters (so far). Several hybrid species of grapes do grow and even thrive here, and many people make their own home brewed wine from them. I’d love to see a cottage winery take a shot at making grape wine.
You can find Alberta fruit wine and mead at smaller, specialty wine shops. Many cottage wineries sell their wares at various farmers’ markets around the province, as well as online and/or from their farm gate. Check out the winery’s own website (listed above) to track them down.