Prince Edward Island’s first cidery, located in Bonshaw, finds great success with award-winning hard cider

When you are a retired police officer and a director of learning at a secondary school in Scotland but you feel “too young to retire”, you move to PEI to make award-winning hard apple cider, right? That’s not quite how Anne and Alex Jamieson’s story went, at least not directly. Fact is, the owners of Riverdale Orchard & Cidery did immigrate from Scotland to PEI in 2014 after having visited the island multiple times. Also a fact is that their first batch of cider fermented in 2018 won four Gold awards at the Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards. But their journey was “four years of blood, sweat, and tears,” Anne said. “With a few laughs in between,” her husband Alex adds.

Having ventured over the Atlantic to settle in our beautiful province, the Jamiesons had planned to open a Scottish café or bistro but couldn’t find the right spot. One somewhat random event, a talk by Fitzpatrick & Co about apple orchards, led to what Anne describes as her eureka moment. “We are gonna make [hard] cider,” she exclaimed to her husband. And so they set onto their path to do so.

Anne and Alex Jamieson at their facility in Bonshaw //Photo credit: Jessica L. Fritz

They joined the Prince Edward Island Apple Growers Association, got support from the Future Farmer Program of the Department of Agriculture, and became certified cider makers by the National Association of Cider Makers after attending Cornell University in New York state, US. Their certification and work experience with artisan cider makers in the UK laid the foundation for their business. Land had to be found, an orchard to be planted, and a cidery to be built. The Jamiesons were viewing a house to purchase when a for sale sign for an adjacent 45 acres was put up that very same morning. Anne and Alex now own both the home and the land.

But PEI’s liquor laws didn’t allow for an easy journey in their endeavours. (See info box for details.) They began in the fall of 2015 with preparing the land. They then planted 600 apple trees of nine varieties on four acres of their land. In 2017 they harvested their first crop, and by 2018 their first batch of hard cider, ‘2 Scots 3 Apples’ was bottled.

That batch sold out in 10 weeks. Little did they know that they would also take away awards for Cider of the Year, Standard Cider and Perry, New Cider House of the Year, and Cider House of the Year at the end of their first season. In October 2018, they had dropped off two of their last six bottles for the Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards held in Halifax.

A bit surprised and very proud of the accolades, the couple calls their product “nature in a bottle”—as nothing is added (like sulfites, sugar, or yeast). They simply put their apple juice into their fermentors. They accept that it takes about five months to make a batch of their product, compared to a couple of weeks in industrial cider making. But offering the first traditional artisan craft cider on PEI is what keeps them going. “We were in the right place at the right time,” Anne said. “What we do is good for the industry. Cider is like beer or wine; everyone has their own taste preference. We were the first, and we wouldn’t have done it any other way,” Anne adds when being asked about upcoming local competition.

While the Jamiesons work on expanding their 2019 production from last year’s 1500 litres to an aspiration target of 5,000 – 6,000 litres this year, there’s no resting in the winter. Snowshoeing trails are accessible throughout the orchard this winter. Scottish-themed food products are planned for the cidery and farmers market and collaboration with a number of tour companies is in the making for the 2019 tourism season. “We see ourselves as an agriculture, agri-tourism business—a place for destination tourism,” Anne explains.

Step by step, their business’ path lies clearer ahead of them. “You gotta learn to crawl before you can walk, and then run,” Alex said. “The whole experience is our full story,” Anne adds. So PEI, watch out for the Riverdale Orchard & Cidery, and try to keep pace with the Jamiesons.

About Jessica L. Fritz

Jessica is "from away" in the truest sense of its meaning: her roots are in Germany. She immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010 and moved to PEI two summers ago. As a passionate home cook Jessica likes to explore different types of cuisines including her native one. "Thinking globally, buying locally" is her foodie mantra, and being able to grow veggies in her own backyard was one of the big drivers for her move to PEI.
Putting words on paper has always been a way to express herself. Hence, writing for Salty combines her love for food and the written word while at the same time discovering PEI's thriving culinary landscape.
And recently, Jessica and her husband launched their own food business: Maritime Marzipan offers hand-made traditional European almond treats inspired by Island living. She is blogging about her adventure here on or you can find them at

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