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The summer wines of Okanagan’s Joie Farm and Tinhorn Creek


As I begin to slowly shut down this website I am determined to clear out my notebook of all the stories and wine reviews I have outstanding before the site goes dark.

It’s been a wonderful ride here at Wines In Niagara, but for various reasons, it’s time to take a break from the time-consuming work it takes to publish a website properly.

I have a few more posts to get to before the end (that sounds so morbid), including this one (which I should have posted a while ago) on a couple of my favourite Okanagan wineries — Tinhorn Creek and Joie Farm. These wines were released this spring and I would wager that some of them are already sold out.

Tinhorn Creek Winery

This Okanagan winery, located south of Oliver, B.C. in the famed Golden Mile wine-growing district, is perched majestically on a hillside overlooking estate vineyards, sagebrush and the old mining creek that is its namesake.


Winemaker Sandra Oldfield crafts her wines from 150 acres of estate vineyards on two distinct benches. The 100-acre Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench is planted with a mix of red and white varieties, primarily Pinot Gris, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The 50-acre Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench is also planted with a mix of red and white grapes, but primarily features Gewürztraminer.

The winery produces wines in two tiers:

The single-varietal series includes a Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot.

The Oldfield Series wines are selected each year for the winery’s top tier, winemaker Oldfield’s signature wines. This tier provides Oldfield with a playground for experimentation and is a creative showcase for the best wines from each vintage.

These wines are from the spring release. Tinhorn Creek is represented in Ontario by Vinexx and occasionally some wines will make it on to Vintages shelves. But the winery will ship to Ontario and anywhere else in Canada for that matter.

OS2BenchWhite1Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench White 2012 ($23, winery, B.C. wine shops, 90 points) — An interesting blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier and Muscat that shows fresh apple, citrus, gooseberry and melon fruits on the nose. It’s made in a fresh and lively style with layers of pear, apple and citrus on the palate with just a hint of mineral and spice. It’s beautifully balanced and perked up by racy acidity. Great job here.

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2012 ($18, winery, B.C. wine stores, 88 points) — A Gew that’s not overdone or over-spiced with grapefruit, lychee, citrus and subtle notes of musk, rose petals and exotic spices. It’s fairly balanced on the palate with juicy fruits and more acid than you’d expect with this fleshy, exotic varietal.

Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2012 ($19, winery, B.C. wine shops, 87 points) — 15% of this wine was fermented in new French Oak barrels for two months. Afterwards that 15% was transferred to stainless steel barrels and lees stirred twice a week. The remaining portion was cold fermented in stainless tanks. 100% went through malolactic fermentation. This is a softer style than I remember but still some nice aromatics of sweet peach, apples and underlying citrus and cream notes. The fruits on the palate are joined by soft creamy-spicy notes that are well integrated. A wine to enjoy now.

Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2012 ($19, winery, 90 points) — Winemaker Sandra Oldfield nailed it with this Okanagan Gris — it is the best she’s made. A gorgeous nose of pear, melon, apple and juicy tropical fruits that have fresh appeal in the glass. It’s made with partial malo to give the Gris a little textural excitement on the palate but the apple, pear and peach fruit still has verve on through the finish. Very pure and delicious. Great job here.

Joie Farm


JoieFarm is owned and operated by Heidi Noble and Michael Dinn and is located on the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley.

This winery gets its inspiration from the grape varieties grown in Alsace and Burgundy. That style is reflected in the eclectic, yet wonderful and unique, portfolio of wines that defines this winery.

Nobel and Dinn are not only interested in making wines in the Alsace and Burgundy style because they love them but also because they feel those varieties thrive and are particularly relevant to the Naramata Bench.

JoieFarm, for the most part, makes highly aromatic wines with hallmark freshness and clean flavours. With a small production of 9,500 cases, their wines sell out quickly and have become a favourite for restaurants from B.C. to Ontario.

The wines can be found at many restaurants in Ontario (including Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine in Niagara-on-the-Lake) and occasionally at Vintages. The winery is represented in Ontario by the Lifford Wine Agency and wines can be purchased through its consignment program.

JoieFarm_2012_RoseJoie Farm A Nobel Blend 2012 ($24, winery, 90 points) — Always one of my favourites from Joie’s spring/summer release, the Nobel Blend of Gewurz, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, Schoenberger and Muscat is an exotic mix of spiced pear, guava, tropical fruit, Granny Smith apple and nutmeg/clove aromas. Such depth of flavour on the palate with layered tropical fruits, pear and mouth-watering citrus that work well with all those exotic spices.

Joie Farm Riesling 2012 ($23, winery, 91 points) — Joie is spot on with this Riesling made from its old vines that were planted in Kelowna’s Mission district by Dr. Helmut Becker in 1976. It shows pure lemon-lime zing on the nose with tropical fruits, peach and riverbed minerality accents. It has nice weight on the palate (for a Riesling) with ripe and vivacious fruits that range from lush tropical to lime-citrus with an added ginger spice kick on the finish. Ripe and juicy, yes, but balanced out by racy acidity.

Joie Farm Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 ($23, winery, 89 points) — Racy apple, minerals, summer peach and pineapples define the nose on this unoaked and fresh style of Chardonnay from Joie. A bit of lees contact adds texture to the wine in the mouth to go with fresh apple and pineapple flavours in a clean, refreshing style.

Joie Farm Muscat 2012 ($23, winery, 90 points) — An exciting Muscat with a nose of peach, lime, herbs and fresh citrus fruits. It’s a touch off-dry and shows good concentration on the palate with wonderful flavours of lime-citrus, tangerine and peach to go with mouth-watering acidity that perfectly balances this wine. A special treat.

Joie Farm Gewurztraminer 2012 ($23, winery, 88 points) — A floral nose with ripe grapefruit, tropical fruit, lychee and a wispy hint of musk oil. The exotic spices shine on the palate to go with citrus, honey and tropical fruit notes. Lovely texture to this wine and enough acid to perk up the ripe fruits.

Joie Farm Pinot Blanc 2012 ($23, winery, 88 points) — Built with Alsace in mind, this Pinot Blanc is made from vines up to 36 years old. It shows lovely melon, apple and grapefruit notes on the nose in a fresh approach. It’s purely fruit-driven, and easy drinking on the palate with good acidity and a slight mineral tone through the finish.

Joie Farm Rosé 2012 ($21, winery, 90 points) — Joie Farm makes one of this country’s great rosés. It is a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris and has a lovely nose of raspberry, strawberry, juicy watermelon and a squirt of refreshing citrus fruit. It is just slightly off-dry on the palate with balancing acidity that brings out the best in the delicious red fruits and lemon-lime zing. Fantastic wine!