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Changes at JoieFarm, acclaimed British Columbia winery
NARAMATA, British Columbia – JoieFarm, one of British Columbia’s most-acclaimed wineries, is going through a shift in ownership.
Founders Heidi Noble and Michael Dinn have divorced, and Dinn has sold his interest in the winery to Noble. Based on an amusing photo that accompanied the press release and comments by the two founders, the split was amicable.
“We’re in a good place,” Dinn told Great Northwest Wine.
Noble agreed, saying, “Our parting of ways is extremely healthy, respectful, and we see bright opportunities ahead for both of us.”
Dinn, who has moved across the province to Vancouver, is joining Revelry Import Co. as a partner with friend and colleague Brian Berry. Road 13, a top Okanagan Valley winery, is one of its clients, and Dinn is representing the winery at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
Noble, meanwhile, will be the owner of JoieFarm and continue to share winemaking duties with longtime winemaker Robert Thielicke.
JoieFarm launches in 2004
The two launched JoieFarm in 2004. Throughout the past decade, they have bucked the trend to more red wines by offering primarily whites that pair beautifully with the Asian-inspired cuisine featured throughout the Lower Mainland, particularly Vancouver.
Noble began cooking professionally when she was 14 years old and graduated from the Stratford Chefs School in Ontario.
Dinn, meanwhile, put himself through college by working in restaurants. He caught the wine bug while working at a high-end bar in London and moved back to Vancouver. From there, he worked as a wine steward at such top restaurants as Cin Cin and C, all the while studying wine.
The two met in 2000 and were engaged three months later. Noble eventually began working for an importer of Old World Wines, and Dinn focused on New World wines. Between the two experiences came JoieFarm, a winery that would make food-friendly wines inspired by the Old World.
In 2002, they were in the Okanagan Valley for a birthday celebration and ran across a house on 5 acres of property on the Naramata Bench, an area just northeast of Penticton. To them, opportunity was knocking.
For four years, they ran a highly successful cooking school that included wine country dinners. From these meals came Noble’s first book, called Menus from an Orchard Table. Published in 2007, it is a beautifully illustrated cookbook with delicious recipes that expressed what the couple hoped to accomplish.
In 2008, Noble’s highly acclaimed rosé was being served at Chez Panisse, the Bay Area restaurant run by Alice Waters, one of Noble’s culinary heroes.
About that time, they stopped the cooking school to focus on JoieFarm.
With the change in structure at JoieFarm, Noble hinted at something new that could involve food.
“I have a few ideas in the works that will certainly delight our longstanding JoieFarm fans,” she said, adding that full details will emerge later this spring.
JoieFarm does not have a tasting room, so nearly all of its 15,000 cases of wine are sold to wine shops and restaurants, primarily in the Lower Mainland, as well as to consumers on the winery’s mailing list. Orders for the 2014 releases will take place in March.
Through the years, JoieFarm has enjoyed incredible acclaim alongside the commercial success. Its 2008 Riesling finished “best of the best” in Wine Press Northwest magazine’s annual Platinum Judging in 2009. Remarkably, the 2008 Noble Blend, an Alsatian-inspired white blend, finished No. 2. The competition included 450 Northwest wines that had won gold medals or better that year.
As a result, the magazine named JoieFarm its 2010 British Columbia Winery of the Year.
Also in 2010, JoieFarm’s 2009 Noble Blend was the best white wine at the prestigious Riverside International Wine Competition in Southern California.