Beyond wildest expectations

Kristie and Willy Gordon pose beside some of their product at Shady Orchard Winery, the region’s newest winemaking business, located east of High Prairie.
Response to locally-made wine has entrepreneurs excited

Chris Clegg

Life is so good for the owners of the region’s newest winery they just might want to sit back for a minute and toast themselves.

With a fine wine from their very own Shady Orchard Winery, of course!

Willy and Kristie Gordon opened the family business just east of High Prairie Feb. 5. So far, sales and feedback from the public has been more than expected – overwhelming, in fact.

“The support from High Prairie has been phenomenal,” says Willy, adding they are already getting customers from as far away as Slave Lake and Peace River.

“People are jazzed; it’s something different,” he adds.

“It’s humbling that people are so excited,” says Kristie.

Shady Orchard participated in their first Enilda Farmer’s Market on March 3 and sold over seven cases [84 bottles] of product.

“We had an exceptional first market,” says Willy. “We plan to go back.”

Feedback at the High Prairie Zabava celebration March 3 was also positive as many sampled the product for the first time.

Shady Orchard makes a variety of wines using apple, pear, saskatoon, raspberry, strawberry and chokecherry, and/or a combination of such fruits. At Christmas they plan on making a special cranberry and raspberry wine.

Bottles are 750 ml or a 3-Litre bag in a box. Shady Orchard prides itself on producing refreshing, high quality fruit wines.

“We pride ourselves in crafting a wine flavourful and rich in taste,” reads their website.

The couple has been making wine since 2012, fine-tuning their craft with every batch until they reached a level of satisfaction for themselves but for valued customers.

“We started making it for personal use at the lake,” says Willy.

It all started when a friend gave Willy a bunch of pears. The brewing bug bit Willy.

It wasn’t a big success at first. In fact, Willy describes the first attempt as “horrible”.

But it didn’t deter him from trying again. With each batch, the product was better and better.

“I did research what I should be doing,” says Willy. “We researched it more and came up with a product that’s really good.”

The Gordons decided to go commercial and after many months of preparation, are sharing their product with the public under the regulations set out by the cottage wine industry.

Making wine is not as easy as tossing the ingredients into a vat. Berries must be grown and the Gordons have plenty of them.

“We have 10 acres out here,” says Willy. “We have 1,100 saskatoon plants, 1,200 raspberries and 12,000 strawberries.”

They plan to add another 12,000 strawberry plants and 600 raspberry plants this year.

As well, they have a few chokecherries and apples on location.

It is a lot of work but so far rewarding, and a small price to pay for realizing a dream, and sharing a special product with friends.

Shady Orchard is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hours will change in the summer. Customers are encouraged to call to confirm business hours. Please call [780] 523-5260 for all inquiries, or visit the website at


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