When superfoodies Heidi Noble and Michael Dinn decided to open a winery, the more cynical among us went looking for the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers newspaper ads under “used wine equipment”. We weren’t counting on the determination and drive of these two Vancouver sommelier stalwarts. What a story!
Saying “Hey, why not?” they bought five acres of farmland in Naramata in 2004, and, to use a cliché, followed their dream. They loved the Naramata climate: warm days, cool nights—a winemaker’s dream.
A decade of hard work on, JoieFarm has grown in volume from the 800 cases produced in 2004 to 15,000 today. Yet with help from winemaker Robert Thielicke, they maintain standards in each varietal in this distinguished portfolio. These consistently have the elegance of Old World wines yet reflect the luscious seasonal fruits and unique minerality of the Okanagan terroir to firmly put the B.C. stamp on it.
This is a treat portfolio for white-wine fanciers. You can build a dinner around it; we certainly have.
As I’ve said many a time, when it comes to the aromatic wines—Muscat, Gewürztraminer, blends—nobody does it better. These are serious wines: clean, dry, crisp, and based on Noble and Dinn’s love of Alsatian and Burgundian wines.
There’s no tasting room at the winery. Who has the time, between the farm—which has grown to 11 acres—plus 25 acres of leased land and an additional 35 acres of contracts “whereby growers grow to our detailed specifications. This control over our grape source has allowed us to make better wines with increasing intensity and better natural balance each year as we gain deeper knowledge of our vineyard sites.”
In keeping with the hands-on approach, they make their own B.C. sales calls to the restaurant families from which they came, almost selling out in the process.
All wines can be ordered directly from the winery, found in private liquor stores, or savoured in the restaurant of your choice.
JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2013 ($24)
Made in the spirit of “Edelzwicker or Gentil”. The literal translation of Edelzwicker is “a noble blend”, and it is noble indeed. Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, and Schoenberger make up the successful mix. There’s a tiny bit of litchi sweetness on the front to draw you in, but not cloyingly, so it’s well balanced as the hint of citrus fruits—lime, grapefruit, and lemon—takes over in the refreshing finish. This Alsatian mix reaches the height of subtlety with this blend. Total production: 6,236 cases, 486 magnums, 90 double magnums.
JoieFarm Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 ($23)
A terrific Chardonnay when you’re searching for something special. Superb on its own or pairs well, as noted here of last year’s vintage, with brunch and lunch. We had it as our starter wine with an appetizer of some mild cheeses, but my bet is, put this anywhere. Tasty notes of pineapple on the front, followed by a crisp and steel-clean finish make it food- or stand-alone-friendly. Five stars. Total production: 901 cases.
JoieFarm Rose 2013 ($21)
Strawberries, cherries, and violets; an intense pink colour—it all spells summer patio. The flavour is enhanced by the choice of 60 percent Pinot Noir and 40 percent Gamay grapes. Serve with grilled asparagus or B.C. spot prawns or scallops when in season—we’re so lucky to have this bounty at our doorstep. Total production: 2,838 cases, but it always sells out fast, so get it now.
JoieFarm Muscat 2013 ($23)
A relative rarity, a dry Muscat that’s not lacking in acidity, this is a treat. Bursting with fruit: mango, papaya, lime, and lemon. Serve with desserts of all kinds. Strawberry shortcake, anyone? Total production: 483 cases.
JoieFarm Riesling 2013 ($23)
It’s subtitled “a delicate balance” on the label, and that it has. Flavours of tropical fruit, subtle spice, and a gorgeous hint of minty floral abound. Some of the fruit came from the St. Hubertus vineyards, well known for good-quality grapes. Five stars on the “Gothic scale”. Total production: 1,100 cases.
JoieFarm Pinot Blanc 2013 ($23)
Master of wine Barbara Philip has proposed Pinot Blanc as a potential signature wine for the Okanagan Valley, and I agree. This one is notable for its apple acidity and therefore can stand up nicely to an oily fish—it’s weighty enough to take it on. These grapes were sourced entirely from the aforementioned St. Hubertus vineyard. A good choice. Total production: 438 cases.
Happy 10th anniversary, JoieFarm. We look forward to future vintages.