My Okanagan harvest adventure started at Joie Farm Winery on the Naramata Bench, just north of Penticton. As a huge fan of Alsatian wines, theirs have been some of my very favorites from B.C. ever since I first tasted the Noble Blend, Riesling and Rose a number of years ago. This is a small family operation with a huge following in Vancouver and a quickly rising fan base in Ontario.
Owned and operated by husband and wife duo Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble, there is an intimate sense of family and happiness at the farm that is palpable in the aptly named wines. Both Heidi and Michael were sommeliers and wine agents before starting the winery, and Heidi is also a Stratford trained chef having cooked at some of Canada's most acclaimed culinary institutions like Toqué! in Montreal and Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario. And after having spent five nights living with them, I can say the meals were nothing short of epic! In the early days, Joie Farm was a Wine and Cooking School that Heidi and Michael ran from their outdoor kitchen. Since they've ended that project and went all-in with the winery, Heidi's published an excellent cookbook of the experience called Menus from an Orchard Table: Celebrating the Food and Wine of the Okanagan.
The wine philosophy at Joie is to have as little intervention as possible, keeping it as natural as is reasonably feesable--Michael cites Paul Draper's interview with Alice Feiring as a fair summary of his winemaking philosophy. Their production is geared toward the wines of Alsace and Burgundy because the Naramata Bench is a slightly cooler microclimat within the Okanagan and the big red varietals don't do as well there as they do down in Osoyoos or Oliver to the south. The moderating effects from the the adjacent Lake Okanagan allow them to produce wonderfully elegant, acid driven wines like their Noble Blend (Edelswicker), Rose (Gamay, Pinot Noir), Riesling & Pinot Blanc. Having built their reputation on producing some of the most outstanding white wines in BC, their red wine program is really shifting gears too. The production of their PTG (Passetoutgrains) has evolved into additional small lot releases of 100% Gamay and an excellent Pinot Noir Reserve that really wowed.
Below is an annotated photo gallery of my five days working at Joie. From the vineyards and crushpad, to the golf course and Heidi's wonderful evening dinners, this is a quick glimpse into the real joie de vive at Joie Farm Winery.