by Ken Tsui | Heidi Noble is the owner, mastermind and winemaker at JoieFarm Winery on the stunning Naramata Bench. Since 2004, the professionally trained chef has been hanging her hat on Old World Alsatian and Burgundian wines that celebrate her slice of the Okanagan Valley’s unique terroir. A veteran of the restaurant world, Heidi (nicknamed “Joey Rose” and “Rose Tsunami”) balances motherhood, winemaking and hospitality with an insatiable appetite for good people and good times made better with bubbly. If you get the chance to visit her cult winery, its revamped tasting room and deliciously idyllic outdoor Picnique this summer, be sure to say hello to…
Where do you live and what makes it home? I live on the beautiful Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley. Home is where my winery (first child), my son Theodore (by far my favourite child) and my Joie Team (all my children) live, “en Famille”.
Coffee or tea? Coffee or die.
Name every restaurant you’ve ever worked at in chronological order. Gourmet Goodies Catering in Edmonton (1989-1992); some creepy café – the name eludes me – run by aggressive swingers in London, Ontario (1994); The Old Prune / Rundles in Stratford, Ontario (1995-6); The AGO Restaurant in Toronto (1997); Jamie Kennedy at the ROM in Toronto (1995); Herbs in Toronto (1996); Ellipsis in Toronto (1996); Toqué in Montreal (1997-1998); Il Giardino in Vancouver (1999); Bin 942 in Vancouver (2000, for one day); Meinhardts in Vancouver (2000); JoieFarm Cooking School in Naramata (2003-2006); Poplar Grove Winery crush pad in Naramata (2004); Pentage crush pad in Penticton (2005-2006); JoieFarm Winery and Joie Picnique “Farine & Feu” (2004-present — my own winemaking masochism).
The one word the describes JoieFarm? My cellarhand is a man who doesn’t say a lot so when he says things they’re pretty choice. He came up with the term “Juicidity” to describe a totally intense core of ripe fruit with mouth-watering, juicy acidity. So if you had to sum up Joie wines in one word it would be that.
The cliché that you overuse? “Because it’s the right thing to do”.
What keeps you up at night? That my staff will work themselves to death. That I will work myself to death.
Dogs or cats? Dogs!
Shoe of choice? Steel toe/shank/arch Blundstones vs. nude patent leather kitten-heeled slingback Louboutins (depending on whether I’m on or off the farm).
Your three role models? Paula Scher (graphic designer), M.F.K Fisher (writer) and my dad, Terry Noble.
In 2011 you wrote an awesome cookbook called “Menus from an Orchard Table” that was published by Whitecap. Any chance we’ll ever see a follow-up? I am working on another literary project right now. It’s actually a book of literotica called “Freshly Fucked”. That’s the working title and now I need to find a publisher who will actually go with that. That’s not to say that wine and food isn’t inextricably linked to fucking, too. It’s not such a departure…if there’s any wine that’s going to get you laid, it’s our rose!
The thing that’s bad for you that you’ll never stop eating? Cheese.
The Vancouver restaurant you wish was open 24 hours? Maenam.
Which local restaurant kitchen do you envy the most? La Quercia.
What was the last live concert you saw? Seu George at the Vogue on The Life Aquatic Tour.
First kisses are a big deal, but we’d rather know about your first knife. When did you buy it and what kind was it? It was a Wustof knife – Japanese style in 1994, way before it was cool. I still have it.
What’s the one thing about Vancouver’s restaurant scene that you want to see changed the most? I’m so fucking tired of “sharing” small plates. Sometimes you just want to eat your own damn entree. Like, all of it.
The different career path that you could have gone on? Research medical doctor. Science is cool.
Three films you would gladly watch again? The Life Aquatic. Moonrise Kingdom. Darjeeling Express.
Three favourite dishes in Vancouver? Tamarind Chicken at Rangoli. The marinaded bean curd at Bao Bei. The halibut cheek soup at Maenam.
You’re in the midst of opening a tasting room for JoieFarm. What started your vision for opening a tasting room? JoieFarm didn’t have a tasting room for 11 vintages. We would sell our wine to restaurants or shops and we just never had the time so we were closed to public. But it was time to let the public back into the dialogue of what we were doing. I opened the old living room of the farmhouse to the public as an experiment to see what would happen and it was a roaring success. It was a very, very old farmhouse, and not in a charming way. It needed to be replaced before something bad happened, so we thought it was a good reason for a purpose-built space.
What have you learned during the build process? You have to complete your own concept and be articulate in what you’re trying to do. Every detail of that has to be a part of that original vision or it’s not authentic.
Your most regrettable purchase ever? My new waste water upgrade at Joie – worst professional engineering experience of my life.
What was the luckiest moment in your life? Meeting my partner, JJ Skidmore. Like lightning stuck.
It’s five years ago. You just clocked out. Where to? Tofino.
What are you the most proud of? My son Theodore and my Reserve Chardonnay and Pinot Noir 2015.
What are you the least proud of? The end of my second marriage.
The best thing about cooking? Cooking with love.
The worst thing about cooking? Dishes. Specifically sheet pans.
If there was a recipe that everyone should know, which one would it be? I could eat Thai or Indian curry everyday, given my druthers. I have this one recipe that’s a classic, easy dinner in 30 minutes. It’s braised chicken thighs in turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves and coconut milk in a Creueset pot. You set it and forget it in the oven at 250F, go about your business for a few hours and your kitchen smells like magic. It’s my signature move as a working mom. I make this dinner at least once a week.
photo courtesy JoieFarm
The strange talent that you possess? My photographic memory.
The strange talent that you wish you possessed? I wish I was a faster runner. My legs are just not that long.
What is the one animal that scares you the most? The moose.
What object of no monetary value will you keep dearly until you die? My Volvo station wagon.
Where’s a place you can always go back to? If I just had to pick one, it’d be Tokyo. I love the Japanese intolerance for mediocrity. The first time I went, I thought it would bother me but I loved it from the moment I arrived.
If you could pack one thing for every trip you take, regardless of size, what would it be? I constantly have my feather pillow in my bag. It means I can sleep anywhere. I just put it over my head and I’m good. I have it in my bag right now!
The Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Oooh – that’s a tough one. The Beatles.
The song that you could listen to on repeat for an hour? Pixies’ Debaser, mashed with Breeders Cannonball, mashed with Belly’s Gepetto. (Yes, I have a crush on Kim Deal.)
First album that made you love music? Depeche Mode’s Speak & Spell.
If you had a motto, what would it be? “Can’t is the new C-word.”
Scariest situation you’ve ever been in? Owing $90,000 for 45 days on 8 credit cards in cash withdrawals to produce the first vintage of Joie.
Restaurant trend that needs to die? Paying for bread. Also, servers saying “I feel like…”. People, it’s ok to say “I think..”. Thinking is a valid way to live.
Your favourite curse? “Son of a bitch.”
Least favourite word? “Kid-friendly”.
The best way to go, in the very end? Eating agnolotti.
And how would you like to be remembered? As busy and talented.