Prince Edward Island is one of eastern Canada's maritime provinces, off New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The large island is marked by red-sand beaches, lighthouses, and fertile farmland, and is renowned for seafood like lobster and mussels. Producing wine and other alcoholic produces is not a major industry on the Island.
Prince Edward Island is the smallest province in Canada. The Island has a total land area of 1.4 million acres. Farms represent about 42.5% of total land area (594,324 acres). In 2018, the population of PEI was 153,244, about 8.9% of PEI’s workforce were employed directly in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors and 3.60% of the population live on farms, reflecting the rural way of life on PEI. The 2016 Census of Agriculture counted 1,353 census farms primarily engaged in growing crops and raising livestock. These farms range in size from a few to 3,000 acres with an average size of 425.
The number of apple orchards is increasing with over 600 acres now been harvested. This has allowed for a growing interest in Cider production.
PEI also has an active honeybee industry. In 2018, this industry supplied approximately 4,450 colonies for pollination services to the Island’s fruit crops.
The first winery in PEI Rossignol Winery, located in Little Sands ( near Murry River) along the picturesque south shore of Prince Edward Island. Owner John Rossignol left his home in Ontario in1990 moving to Little Sands PEI. opening the winery in 1995.
The warm waters of the Northumberland Strait allows for the vineyards to flourish. The grape varieties grown include L'Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Muscat, Marechal Foch, Valient, Lucie Kuhlman and Marquette.
As winemaker John Rossignol looks for clean stable products with balanced acids. No pesticides are used operating as an ecologically friendly winery They winery has a 50,000 bottle capability creating both table and fruit wines
The winery uses labels based on original artwork created by John, his wife Dagny, and other local artists.
The second winery on the island is Matos Winery located in St. Catherines about 20 Km SW of Charlottetown. Jaime and Heather Matos were both born on the island of Pico in the Acores, just off of Portugal. Heather came to Ontario when she was 5 and Jaime when he was 18. While in the Acores Jaime helped his father tend to his vineyards there and make wine.
It had always been a dream and passion for Jaime to have his own vineyard and winery one day. Many travels around the world scouting for the perfect location and a place that he could enjoy and call home. This ended up being Prince Edward Island
In the summer of 2007, 16,000 Gamay Noir and Chardonnay grapevines were imported from France and planted on 10 hillside acres. In the spring of 2008, the Matos family sold their wine business in Ontario and moved to PEI
The newest winery is Newman Estate Winery located east of Murray Harbour also in the Little Sands region. The winery is owned by Mike Newman. All wines are made with 100% Prince Edward Island grapes Estate grown on the vineyard in Gladstone.
Mike has a Bachelor of Engineering Degree from the University of New Brunswick, a Master of Business Administration degree from Carleton University and a winemaker certificate from the University of California – Davis. He currently runs the winery in the summer months and is still a contractor in Engineering during the off-season.
Arlington Orchards is a family run farm, Eco-Apples farm, with Carol and Barry Balsom celebrating their 20th year of growing apples in 2013. They are the PEI largest orchard with 32 acres of apples, plus pears and plums equalling 50 acres.
They currently have over 6,000 apple trees and we produce between 500-700 pound bins for a total of approximately 360,000 pounds each season.
The first of their hard cider line is "Malpeque Bay Cider", in honour of Malpeque Bay and the soft breezes and warmer conditions the Bay provides. They also make Iced Apple Cider.
Arlington Orchards was a part of a provincial study involving federal and provincial governments, researchers, and other Island apple growers that focused on using natural pollinators and not importing any honeybees. We rely on our native Prince Edward Island bees and not honeybees to pollinate our fruit crop, and since 2000 we have identified over 120 native PEI bee species.
Double Hill Cidery is located in the hills of Caledonia, Prince Edward Island. The Farm was first settled by the MacDonald family and named Double Hill for its ravine that dissects the land into two hills
Recently two new cideries have opened Riverdale Orchard in Bonshaw owned by Anne and Alex Jamieson and Red Island Cidery in Charlottetown.
Is there a strong future for grape wines in PEI maybe, if not perhaps cider will become the stronger industry. The P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission reports total volume of cider sales grew 36 per cent from 2017 to 2018, with sales increasing 40 per cent to $1.4 million