A former Griffith couple is using their MIA agriculture experience and making their mark in a big way on the other side of the world.
Jeff and Niva Martin’s Naramata Bench winery, La Frenz Winery, in Canada’s British Columbia province was recently awarded Top Performing Small Winery in Canada for 2017.
The British Columbia (BC) wine region around Naramata Bench is a growing national and international brand, and one Mr Martin said he’s proud to be a part.
“I am extremely pleased to win two small Winery of the Year awards from the only two competitions I entered this year,” Mr Martin said.
“We have a world class wine industry here ... our best producers are clearly making wines worthy of sitting alongside wines from anywhere in the world.
“The major wins by La Frenz Winery and other BC wineries at international competitions prove this point.”
La Frenz also took fifth place in the Top 10 Wineries in BC, and was recognized as number 10 in the Top 25 Wineries in Canada.
Much of the awards are thanks to Mr Martin’s wealth of Riverina grape-growing knowledge.
Mr Martin was originally involved with the industry from early childhood, and much of his extended family remains heavily involved in the MIA.
“We came to BC for a two year working holiday 22 years ago and never left,” Mr Martin said.
“It was the Wild West back then, but it’s been a wonderful experience to play our part and to witness where the BC wine industry is today.”
Jeff became involved in the wine industry at the age of 18, when he was employed by McWilliams going on to become the chief red winemaker for the McWilliams group.
In 1989, after a working sabbatical in Napa California, a short trip to British Columbia opened a door he couldn’t close.
He and Niva soon returned to Canada with their two young daughters for what was termed “a working holiday” and were captured by the sun-drenched beauty of the Okanagan Valley.
There, armed with 20 years of experience, the Martins fulfilled their lifelong dream of producing world-class wine in their own winery.
“Anyone can ferment juice,” Mr Martin said.
“It takes skill, experience, and knowledge of this intricate art to make top quality grapes into great wine.”