joie to the world

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

State and national boundaries frequently trump common sense as far as wine laws, labeling, and sales are concerned. Walla Walla wineries whose production facility is on the Oregon side of the valley (Cayuse, Zerba, etc.) must maintain a tasting room in Washington, and pay a bond in both states, even though the AVA itself does not differentiate between them.

It’s worse for wineries that are in Canada. The laws in that country, if anything, make ours look sensible and generous. The British Columbia wineries, many located just across the border in the Canadian Okanagan, have one hell of a time selling their wines in the US. Far better for those of us lucky enough to live in Washington to drive or fly up and visit in person. It’s not illegal to bring wines back for personal consumption, and the taxes you pay are quite modest (about $1 a bottle last time I checked).

I’ll be up there in October doing a wine judging, and blogging about new discoveries daily, but here’s an old friend who are working to make some of their wines available in a few US markets.

JoieFarm ( began in 2002 as a guest house and cooking school, the project of two Vancouver émigrés with wine/restaurant/hospitality backgrounds. In 2007, owners Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble planted their orchard over to grape vines and built a new winery on their five-acre, Naramata Bench property. Those estate grapes will have their first harvest this fall.

Dinn and Noble are especially fond of the wines of the Loire, Alsace, Burgundy, Germany, Alpine France and Northern Italy, and they capture those graceful, light, elegant flavors in their JoieFarm wines. A look through the rave reviews, and impressive list of BC restaurants carrying these wines, should convince anyone that Joie is the real deal.

The 2008 A Noble Blend is a gorgeous summer white that will have you singing “Edelweiss” or “The Lonely Goatherd” from Sound of Music – and I will wager it’s the only blend of gewurztraminer, Kerner, pinot blanc, pinot auxerrois, pinot gris and Oraniensteiner you’ll ever have. The alcohol tops out at 12.5%, and the wine is a perfect mix of flower, meadow and mellow fruit flavors.

JoieFarm’s 2008 Un-Oaked Chardonnay also displays a similarly delicate touch, this with a single-grape focus that dapples in apples, pears and melon. A rosé and a riesling, both excellent. A note from the owners last May indicated that a distribution deal with a California agent was in the works, but so far, nothing has happened. Keep an eye on the website for an update, and if you are traveling in BC, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding these wines in your favorite restaurant.

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