Canadian Winery Spotlight: JoieFarm

Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble made the move from Vancouver — where they met studying to be sommeliers while working in the restaurant and hospitality industry — to the Okanagan Valley, and have never looked back.

In fact, with a decade’s worth of vintages under their proverbial belts, it’s remarkable just how quickly the two (now married, and working with vineyard manager Robert Thielicke) were able to capture the purity of fruit from vineyards in Naramata and beyond.

Dinn and Noble’s focus is on grape varieties commonly grown in France’s Alsace and Burgundy region, with the notion that grapes from the cooler-climate French regions are best-suited to Naramata and the cooler regions of the Okanagan Valley.

And in short order, they’ve pretty much been hitting it out of the park with JoieFarm.

Working closely on their own vines as well as with various growers and families throughout the Okanagan Valley, Dinn and Noble take that same amount of care once the grapes have been picked. Even their reserve wines are never overloaded with excessive oak — it’s always complementary rather than dominant.

There’s a tank-sample freshness to many of JoieFarm’s wines that marries New World ripeness with Old World complexity.

The JoieFarm 2013 Muscat, for example, is brimming with spicy, floral aromatics as well as buckets of stone fruit (think peach or tangerine), and brings bright, racy acidity and nice texture. Rest assured, it’s not a sweet Muscat — rather, it’s made bone-dry and beautiful, with a delicate balance of spice and fruit that recalls some of the most complex wines from France’s Alsace region.

On the Burgundian front, the 2013 Un-Oaked Chardonnay delivers similar satisfying results. While some un-oaked Chards come across as simple or insipid, JoieFarm’s example is packed with crunchy red apple, ripe peach, fresh pear and delicate chalky notes. It’s fresh, it’s crisp, yet there’s still tremendous complexity to this wine that harkens back to white Burgundy that’s far pricier than JoieFarm’s example.

On the red wine side of things, JoieFarm’s 2012 Gamay does a great job of expressing those gorgeous strawberry and raspberry notes that one expects from the grape. The light tannins and slightly meatier notes bring a complexity that rivals some of the best wines from France’s Beaujolais region — Julienas, Fleurie, Morgon and the like.

There are only a handful of wineries where I’d easily recommend any wine they make. JoieFarm is one of them.


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.

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