Having been on the coast for the past ten days, I walked past window after window with doors locked, chairs up and polite but heartbroken notes taped to the door explaining that their restaurants would be closed until further notice. Looking through these windows, my own heart broke.
Joie was built on the backs of restaurants. For those of you who are new to the brand or don’t know the story of the winery, Joie had humble restaurant origins started by a cook and a waiter. Literally. Long story short, after exiting a career that spanned all parts of the hospitality business (front of house, back of house, Sommelier positions, running wine programs and working in the wine import business) Joie was steeped in the ins-and-outs, highs-and-lows of the business.
Aiming to make wines for our peers and the community from which we came, Joie began to make wine in 2004. We made wines for our friends. We knew what the restaurant market wanted and needed at the time, and our restaurant friends trusted us enough to buy it. We sold our entire first production in two weeks to Vancouver restaurants: with Vikram Vij and John Clarides putting their credit cards down on the table in advance of the wine being finished, buying a pallet each. Vikram and the staff at Vij’s launched the Noble Blend and sent it out into the world, being sold tableside, one bottle at a time. Vij’s restaurant was a vector for the brand and it gained dizzying momentum from there. JoieFarm had no tasting room for 11 years, as the restaurant community and private wine shops consumed everything we were able to produce. That is the power of this business, of our community and the overwhelming loyalty of BC wine buyers. I wish to thank every shop that has chosen to list our product and every server and clerk who has sold a bottle to a customer. Without you, my winery would be nothing. You are my reps, collectively telling the Joie story.
18 years later, my last restaurant meal out in Vancouver was my friend Angus An’s restaurant Maenam. Ironically seated next to chef Massimo Capra, who was himself trying to get a sense of Vancouver’s independent restaurant scene, I shared my story (and my lunch!) with he and his wife. I recounted taking Joie’s wines to the James Beard House in 2008 with Angus, Kate and his team (David Gunawan cooking and Chris Stearns taking phots). We showed NYC’s and America’s top food media what BC’s West Coast & Wine Country cuisine was all about. A true highlight of my entire career. All these years later, I take great pleasure and pride making wine for my talented friend’s restaurants and for my retail clients to hand sell with pride.
Back at home this afternoon I sat in the woods above my house in North Naramata. Looking down on the winery I had a long reflection on this story. This situation reaches far beyond my restaurant and my wine shop friends, but to the entire hospitality community of tourism operators, accommodators, suppliers, support services, viticultural teams, grape growers, tech support, contractors and trades. We cannot forget about them, too. It is so important to keep our staff supported the best way we can, our bills to our vendors paid, so we have a strong industry to come back to, when life rises up again and we can sit back at the table together as a community. I wish you all strength and hope in coming days and weeks. I will pledge as an owner and boss lady to keep my team intact so we can support and supply yours again in coming days.
On my table today is love, abundance and presence. One of the silver linings of our current situation is the opportunity to sit quietly and be present with our families and share a meal. A good meal - one that took hours together to prepare.
I know that over the past couple of days, I have done just that with my own family. It has helped ease our anxiety, given us an activity to share and then relish our hard work together. I would like to encourage you to do the same, as deliciousness is possible against the backdrop of a crisis. As I was inspired by the New York Times article this morning: "Deliciousness improves moods and inspires hope and connectivity."
I encourage you to share and savour a bottle of wine at your table with your meal. JoieFarm wines have always been for created “for the table”; they are delicious on their own, but always elevated by good food and good company.
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